“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.” Exodus 3:2
I’d been a Pastor for approximately four years and I was struggling to find my feet as a leader. I was busy but busy-ness doesn’t always translate into pastoral leadership. I’ve said it many times over the years; there are a never ending list of good things for a Pastor to do; the trick is knowing which ones you ought to be doing and which ones you should leave for someone else. I couldn’t tell the difference between the tasks that were mine and the ones that weren’t and the result was that we were going no where. I knew it and I knew that the people knew it and I didn’t know what to do.
Then one day as I was driving on another errand I passed one of my churches and I felt drawn to go in and pray. So I stopped and went into the sanctuary and sat down on a pew in the front of the church and bowed my head and began pouring out my heart to God.
There have been many times in my life that I’ve had a very real sense that God is listening but on this day it was different. On this day as I sat there with my head bowed I became conscious that God was drawing near and the closer he came the more humbled I felt.
I couldn’t stay seated on that pew. It was like I was being gently but irresistibly pushed off my seat and onto my knees, and then from my knees and onto my face. I never thought to look up. I was in God’s house. I was in the very presence of God and there was nothing else I could think of.
I don’t remember any words being spoken to me that day but some time later when I left the church I had a strong conviction that God had heard my prayer and that he was going to take me by the hand and show me what I needed to do.
And he did. I was only in that district one more year but in that year, as a leader, more happened than had happened in all four years of my pastoring combined.
Too often we read texts like our focus text and basically think to ourselves, “That was then, this is now. God doesn’t come to people like that anymore.”
Friends, God does come near but most of the time we’re too distracted and out of touch to know it, and because we believe that God’s sitting indifferently, or distractedly, ten millions miles away our prayers lack the substance and conviction they ought to have. We pray from habit and not from the heart.
I think most of us need to top our prayer lists with a request for God to open up our awareness of his presence. And we need to keep begging and pleading and searching for that awareness until we get the blessing we seek.
O Lord open our ears to hear you. O God open our eyes to see you. Let us feel you as you hold us in your arms. Let us feel your grip as you take us by the hand and lead us through this day. O Father help us know you and your loving presence today.