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right there the whole time

"burning bush" by isaac brynjegard-bialik

watching a rob bell "nooma" film (one that i've seen at least 5 times before), reminded me of a vital truth, and a critical cornerstone of my worldview.  and yet, even though this truth is so formative for me, it was clear that i had sort of lost the plot a bit, and needed to be reminded of it yet again.  i have written before in these pages that i know less and less as i learn more and more.  i think of bono singing, "the more you see, the less you know; the less you find out as you go; i knew much more then than i do now," in city of blinding lights.  i couldn't agree with him more.  but it isn't just that certainty begins to be eroded by wonder and beauty, but also that i forget more and more.  what i once learned, i need to relearn.  and what i have relearned hundreds of times, still needs to be learned again.  and so i keep saying the same things.  i keep preaching the same good news.  i keep writing the same truths:  God is here....you are loved....there is always hope.

bell was talking about moses wandering around the desert during his shepherding phase.  he had fled egypt, and taken to a more pastoral lifestyle, guiding and guarding herds of animals, along what had to become familiar routes, constantly looking for low lying spots of moisture, where there would be growth and maybe even water.  after a while the lay of the land and the routine of the terrain would have become familiar. maybe even more than familiar.  maybe even boring.

until one day.  on that day, he was wondering around the familiar landscape, seeing nothing in particular that he hadn't already seen a ga-jillion times, until suddenly he did:  a bush that appeared to be on fire.  as he approached it, he noticed that it didn't burn up.  it just kept burning, like a lantern. then it called to him, calling him by name.  there's all kinds of great material here, but i want to get to the point.  the voice from the bush tells moses to take his sandals off.  why?  because the place where moses is standing is "holy ground."

did you catch that?  the place where moses is standing is holy.  it is special.  it is sacred space.  you see, moses didn't go anywhere different.  he is standing in a spot he probably had stood in before; a patch of ground that could have been mistaken for any of patches that had defined his existence for some time.  just another brown, earthy, mundane moment of herding sheep.  heck, chances are he was standing near (or maybe even in) a pile of sheep droppings.  it was all so normal and regular and routine.  but God offers a different perspective.  God says: "pay attention!  wake up!  this place where you are?  this boring and routine place?  this monotonous schedule  and all the things that are just fading into the background while you pass your time?  all of this is sacred.  it is holy ground!  take off your shoes and notice it!"

bell asked the question in his video, and it has been ringing in my ears ever since, "how many burning bushes do we walk past all the time?"  how often is God calling out to us from the ruts and scenery of our days, while we completely miss it?  we think we've seen this before.  we think we know what to expect.  we think it is regular and normal and that God wouldn't be there....God would be in the pastor's sermon, maybe, or the miraculous event, but not in the middle of my day, while scarfing down a fish sandwich at arby's.

but you see, that is exactly where God is.  right where you are.  right in the midst of the mundane.  right where you've been all along while you've been doing whatever it is you've been doing.  so wake up!  let's take notice of where we are...God is here, teaching and reteaching, opening and re-opening, deeming and redeeming.

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