What does it mean to turn aside?
This has been a question I have been pondering since our midweek Communion service, earlier today. It stems from God’s command to Moses, in Exodus 3, to turn aside and see why the bush is not burning up (vs. 3). And the reason those few words struck a chord with me today, I think, is because, as a newly ordained Deacon, life feels rather full-on. My diary over the last few weeks has been full, to overflowing, with lots of meetings, committees and different groups to attend; lots of people to meet as a result; as well as the, somewhat regular stuff which, I am required to do, by being in the very role I am in. And, if I’m not careful, this busyness, can become my rule of life, something which I simply accept, and settle in to, as my ministry progresses. And, it’s so easy for that to happen. Having come from a busy parish, into another one, I know what its like. You spend so much time racing through things to get where you need to be, that it’s so easy to miss out on what’s right in front of you. What’s going on in the present moment.
This is something I think we can all learn from the story of the burning bush in Exodus 3, since, like us, Moses’ too could’ve walked straight by, thinking it odd, but being so focused on where he was going, that he didn’t take the time to ‘turn aside’. And thus, would’ve missed out on his encounter with God. Turning aside then, means we must stop, even just for a moment, to look for our own burning bushes – the place where God is, and where God wants to meet with us, because, without those moments, without those times of encounter, we can’t do any of the things we are called to.
So, the challenge for me, in these first few months, is to ensure that in my busy schedule, there is time for me to ‘turn aside, take off my sandals’, and stand in the presence of God, asking him to reveal to me that which he is calling me to at that particular moment, not what he might be asking of me in 6 months time.
May we be people who recognise the burning bushes in our midst, and be brave enough to stop, turn aside, and meet with the living God, who is our strength and life.