Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12
Moses was looking after the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, priest of Midian. He led his flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the shape of a flame of fire, coming from the middle of a bush. Moses looked; there was the bush blazing but it was not being burnt up. ‘I must go and look at this strange sight,’ Moses said, ‘and see why the bush is not burnt.’
Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
I must go and look at this strange sight.
I enjoy watching children play. Kids have a way of indulging themselves in make-believe. They don’t do it out of boredom or for lack of other forms of entertainment. They do it simply because. Playing connects us with a deeper and eternal centre that defies our sense of time and age. Watching a child being wrapped up in his or her make-believe world can teach us a thing or two about ‘carefree timelessness’. But how is that important to us in our sophisticated grown-up world, you say?
Moses was about 40 years old when he fled to Midian after he killed the Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave (Ex 2:11-12). He spent the next 40 years tending to his father-in-law’s flock of sheep. It was during this period that one day, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the shape of a flame of fire in a bush.
Shepherding is probably a boring job. I could probably do that for novelty’s sake on a farmstay, but for 40 years? Nuh-uh! However, I believe that even at his age, Moses still had the curiosity of a child to approach the peculiar burning bush – “I must go and look at this strange sight.” While he certainly had an important job to do, the carefree aimless nature of shepherding allowed him to veer off the course. It was the Holy Spirit who prompted in him the curiosity. And there was room for childlike naiveté and innocence in his disposition that enabled him to suspend disbelief and answer, “Here I am” when he heard the voice of God call “Moses, Moses!” Even to listen on to the rest of what that strange voice commanded him to do – to bring the Israelites out of Egypt!
What strikes me the most is that even when Moses questions, “Who am I to go… and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” he exhibits belief more than disbelief! He does not roll his eyes, pooh-pooh the voice he hears, or thinks himself nuts. He responds, he engages, he makes-believe, he indulges this inexplicable experience. He allows himself to become very small again, like a child.
It is to this littleness of Moses’ ego, that God compassionately answers him, “I shall be with you, and this is the sign by which you shall know that I have sent you” (v.12). Ahh, a sign that claims itself to be the sign… the voice in the burning bush that says “you can hear me and therefore I am real”, isn’t too helpful to our dear Moses, isn’t it! But yet again, we witness Moses choosing childlike trust over grown-up ego and sophisticated disbelief.
In today’s gospel Jesus praises His Father “for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children” (Mt 11:25). Sometimes I tend to doubt the signs that God has revealed to me, His purposes for me, and His deep fatherly love for me – when I am dosed up on ego, “Thanks for everything so far, but I think I can manage the next few moves on my own.”
However, I give thanks for the Holy Spirit who swoops in and reminds me to grow very small again. That’s when I put on some really good music and dance myself silly in my room (Ha! I even sprained my ankle once doing so!). I let myself be that little child again, knowing my Father above watches on in delight. These moments remind me that spending ‘carefree timelessness’ with Him is so critical to remembering how precious I am in His sight. And it gives me courage to trust the voice I hear that says, “I shall be with you”.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
Thanksgiving: Dear Jesus, teach us to be like children again. Help us take time out of our egoistic pursuits, and not count the cost or hours that we spend in carefree timelessness in Your presence.
Prayer: We give You thanks Lord for the gift of hearty laughter and play! You are the God of Love and Mirth!