September 13, 2023

Standing on Holy Ground

Prayer for Understanding

God of wisdom, You teach us with love, You touch us with mercy, and You challenge us with truth. Send Your Holy Spirit to help us grasp Your love, mercy, and truth in the Scriptures as we encounter Your living Word today. Amen

I enjoy writing journals. Even though I do not write every day, I write regularly. Last week, I opened and read the diary that I wrote around my 40th birthday. A week before my 40th birthday, I attended a small Christian conference, and the speaker was a minister from the States. He was a great teacher, prayer warrior, and encourager.

During the conference, unexpectedly, he called me and prayed for me, saying… I do not remember the exact wording, but it was like, “You are a woman of faith and perseverance. You do not have to keep sacrificing yourself for your husband’s ministry. God has a plan for you. God’s timing for you is here…”

When I was a high school student, I committed my life to God and since then, I wanted to serve God in whatever ways God asked me to serve. As a minister’s wife, even though I didn’t have any title, I tried to do as much as I could for the church Thomas was serving. Yet, in my heart, I felt that my dream was gone, and I was forgotten.

The conference and the speaker’s prayers for me were certainly a wake-up call. It was God’s attention-getter. He’d heard my prayers and He remembered. And in His time, He called me, “It’s time, my daughter. Get ready.”

However, for the last 13 years before that point, I was a full-time stay-at-home mom. I was afraid of starting anything new. I couldn’t imagine going back to school because I hated writing essays. After finishing university, I had never written an essay or even a page-long paper. I thought, “Me? M.Div. No way.” I thought it was impossible. But here I am.

God uses all of us in His timing, in His ways. Today, we see God calling a middle-aged man or a senior (?) who had been shepherding in the Midian desert for 40 years.

We studied about Joseph a few Sundays ago. After Joseph and all his siblings died, a new king, who didn’t know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. Fearing that the growing number of Hebrews could lead to rebellion he began oppressing them with forced labor.

The Israelites became slaves in Egypt. However, because the Israelites increased even more, the Pharaoh ordered the killing of the newborn boys. In the midst, Moses’ mother hid her newborn son, Moses, for 3 months.

When she couldn’t hide the baby any longer, she placed baby Moses in a basket and released him in the flow of the river Nile. The basket fell into the hands of the Pharaoh's daughter who was bathing in the river. Moved with compassion when she discovered the child, she decided to adopt him.

Moses was brought up inside the royal court, getting a great education and enjoying a privileged life. Yet, one day, Moses murdered an Egyptian, beat a Hebrew slave, and hid his body in the sand. When his crime was revealed, Moses fled into the desert in Midian in fear.

There he met Jethron, a priest of Midian. Over the course of time, Jethro gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses for a wife. Since then, Moses stayed with them and lived as an obscure shepherd in the desert of Midian. At this point, his life was so humble that he didn’t even have a flock of sheep to call his own – the sheep belonged to his father-in-law.

Can you imagine what Moses' daily routine was like at this time? Same terrain, same sheep, same smell, same routine, every single day for 40 years. What a contrast to how he lived growing up in Egypt?

In fact, Moses had the job he had grown up to despise. In Genesis 46, Joseph helped his family settle down in the region of Goshen, saying, “All shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”

Now, living as a nameless shepherd in a foreign land for 40 years, what do you think he was thinking of himself? He perhaps considered himself a failure, an 80-year-old failure. Not many big dreams, not a huge meaning in his life, not many great expectations… He wasn’t really striving to do or to be anything. He was just living life, making his life through.

It was another ordinary day for Moses, tending to the flock of Jethro in the wilderness when he saw a strange phenomenon. He saw a bush burning, but not being consumed. It was a magnetic sight to Moses, a seasoned shepherd who had hands-on knowledge about the life, circumstances, creatures, and topography of the wilderness.

The burning bush successfully ignited Moses’ curiosity. “I will go over and see this strange sight - Why the bush does not burn up?” God didn’t speak to Moses until He had Moses’ attention. Often God’s Word doesn’t touch our heart the way that it might, maybe because we don’t give it our full attention.

WE all have experienced what could be called a “burning bush” moment. These moments occur when we sense that God is seeking our attention, speaking to us, and calling us to participate in what God is doing in our midst.

Burning bush moments change our lives and the lives of those around us. They draw us into a deep engagement with the living God, who is always active in our lives. Sadly, we often miss these moments, therefore missing out on an opportunity to be used by God in His work.

When have you experienced a moment in which you felt God was trying to get your attention? How has God grabbed your attention? Through a personal and intimate experience with God? Through Special blessings? A meaningful worship experience? A particular Scripture passage? A life-changing relationship? OR Personal crisis?

Of course, not all personal crises like health issues, financial difficulties, broken relationships, or loss of a job are from God to get your attention. As long as we live in this broken world, we face all kinds of challenges. Yet God can surely use those situations to bring about something good. God can use the most tragic incident or circumstance to transform our lives in a better way, giving us purpose and meaning.

Sometimes God has a way of meeting us in the most unusual places. We may expect God to manifest Himself to us in church, in the prayer closet, or at a revival meeting. But it often happens in the daily routine of our lives. He met Moses while tending sheep, Gideon while threshing, Elisha while plowing, Peter while fishing, and Matthew while collecting taxes.

He comes to us in the kitchen while washing the dishes, garage while fixing a car, garden while watering flowers, in the car while driving, or on a trail while walking.

The other day, I was taking a walk early in the morning at a nearby trail. There is my Peniel - (Do you remember the place where Jacob met God at the Jabbok River? Jacob called the place, Peniel.) I pause there and have a quiet time.

The place is surrounded by trees and small streams of water. There I saw a snail moving very slowly on a rock towards the streams of water. Through the very slow-moving snail, God captured my attention, saying, it is okay to go slow. You do not need to rush. Langley church doesn’t have to be a busy body, trying to do what other churches do. It was a tiny, but one of the ‘burning bush’ moments for me.

Then God called Moses from within the burning bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Mose answered, “Here I am.” And God gave him a new mission to free the Israelites. The Almighty God came to Moses and shared His plan, “I have come down to deliver Israel from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

But, Moses says, “Me? No way.” Moses said, “Why me? I am nobody. How can I go to the king and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  Moses wasn't all that excited about being in the ministry. He didn't really want a second chance. He didn’t want to be used by God. In fact, he made excuses not to join in God’s ministry.

“I’ll be with you,” God continued. But Moses kept saying, “Suppose I go to the People of Israel and I tell them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me to you’; and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What do I tell them?” God was very patient and said, “I AM WHO I AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you.’”

Moses made excuses - about his identity - “Who am I?”; about his ignorance - “What do I tell them?”; about His inadequacy - “I’m a poor speaker, slow and hesitant.” Even though God had proven His providence and showed the signs, Moses was not convinced. He did not believe that he could do the task with God’s help.

What are your excuses? Oh, I’m not a good reader; I’m not a good singer; I’m too old; I can’t drive; I’m not knowledgeable about the Scriptures; I do not have enough faith; I’m shy;  I’m only … Use him. Use her. Use them, but not me.

The other day, I heard from our brother Trevor that at his volunteer place, (Was it Fraser Valley Gleaners?) was a 100-year-old gentleman who came to volunteer Monday to Friday, 5 days a week. Instead of watching TV on his comfy couch, he decided to participate in the ministry to feed the hungry around the world even at age 100 as much as he could, as long as he could.

What has been God’s ‘call’ in your life? What would it take to get your attention and commitment to accept a new mission in life? Do you think you’re too old, not an eloquent speaker, not knowledgeable about God? It’s okay. God uses the most unlikely person for His mission. All He needs is our willingness. “Here I am, Lord. I’ll do it if You use me.”

You don’t have to be perfect; you don’t have to be effective; you don’t have to be extroverted; you don’t have to be fast. You do as much as you can. Do not be afraid of making mistakes when you read the Scriptures. Do not be afraid of singing the wrong tune. Do not be afraid of stammering when you pray. If you are perfect, there is no room for God. And thankfully, none of us here is perfect except God.

Brothers and sisters, I pray that right here is the Holy Ground for you. The Holy Ground where God comes down and calls YOUR name. I pray that standing on Holy Ground, you may experience your own “Burning Bush” moment today. I pray that you answer His call, “Here I am Lord.” And our Faithful God will say, “I will be with you. I will help you.”

Let us pray.

God of Promise, You come to us on our ordinary day to our ordinary place and call us. You transform where we are into Holy Ground. Standing on Holy Ground, we answer, “Here I am Lord. Use me,” even though we feel inadequate, not good enough, not knowledgeable enough. You use the most unlikely people like us to accomplish Your purposes. Thank You for using us for Your Kingdom, for Your church, and for Your people. Let Your will be done here and now. Amen.