Is it just me, or do a lot of us feel like Israelites in the desert right now?

We were led out of the slavery of sin and now we wander around in a desert of hardship waiting to see the Promised Land.

Am I the only one who’s tired?

The Israelites were tired too. They set up nomadic camps, built structures, raised livestock, and gathered food. They had weddings, funerals, feasts, and bore children. They lived a life of struggle with a promise of Hope. It’s the same promise we have.

Gathering Around a Fire

Something struck me a few months ago while I was sitting at a campfire with friends. I was reminded again when someone mentioned a bonfire. Fires bring people together–for food, warmth, light. The Israelites used fires in their camps, I’m sure. They likely cooked with fire, warmed water, burned sacrifices. The Israelites used fire as a necessity in a way we don’t have to, but the power of fire hasn’t been forgotten.

When you think of God and fire, you may usually think of hellfire, fire, and brimstone. Recently, I’ve thought of it less in terms of destruction, and more power. I think of the fire in King Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace, where God’s power was stronger than the manmade fire. I think of Jesus bending over a fire on a beach to cook breakfast for his disciples. I think of Jesus meeting with Moses on Mt. Sinai.

The hike up to that mountain… Sandaled feet covered in dirt… Navigating bushes and thorns… Climbing over boulders and logs.

It’s 3 miles one way, uphill, and Moses was 80 years old. He didn’t make the climb once, but twice.

I imagine Moses climbed this mountain, blinded by smoke and fog. He was likely dirty and aching. He was in the dark and suddenly when he reached the summit there was light.

God was there, in the clearing.

While the Israelites looked up to a mountain covered in smoke and clouds, with thunder and lightning and a ground that was shaking, Moses was having a meeting with God Almighty. While the Israelites were confused and scared, watching their leader disappear along the path, Moses was finding his leader.

God appeared to Him there and in doing so, appeared to the Israelites as well.

He didn’t show up as a heavenly cherub. He didn’t show up as a grandfather-like figure. He didn’t hulk above Moses as a scary master nor flood his senses as a spirit. God appeared to Moses as fire–the most powerful fire to ever exist, the most bright, the most warm.

And yet…

The bush did not burn.

We too have the opportunity to meet with God. We have the pleasure of welcoming Him into our homes and our lives. His is a most welcome warmth, a most bright light, but we often feel as if letting Him in will burn the place down.

As Christians, we often think of God in terms of who He will burn and for what. I implore you to think about God in terms of the burning bush. The fire that was restrained, even while He knew what would become of His people shortly thereafter. The Father that sent His son, knowing He would be turned away and crucified. The Creator that made a people and a planet even though He knew they would both be ruined by time and misuse and bad decisions.

Father in Heaven,
Be with us, Lord. Not as the God we so often think You are, but the God You are.
Help us to know You, Lord, and to be okay with You knowing us.
We don’t have all the answers. Help us to ask the right questions.
You alone know us, love us unconditionally, and know our future and past.
You know our story of redemption before we seek it, forgiveness before we ask it,
And life before we’ve lived it.
Help us to live for You, and waste no more time afraid of what You may do to us.
Put a desire in us, Lord, for Your work in us.