Through the ages, the episode of Moses and the burning bush has figured into the religious experience of many. Perhaps not in its exact form of a blazing inextinguishable tree, but in the wider sense of an energy that keeps on coming. Think of those distinct kinds of testimonies to a strength that’s more than one’s own, a resilience that can’t be explained only by what he or she brings.
Are there times when you never imagined how you were going to make it through – and yet you did, kept afloat by something extra that wasn’t just you. That’s the burning bush experience, the awareness of a “something more” that kept flaming up when your own energy was spent.
But equally as important as the flame is what comes after, the response to this infusion of energy. For Moses, it is the mission he takes up to lead his people out of the deserts of Egypt into the Promised Land. Conscious he’s drawing from more than his own strength, he realizes he is a conduit of God’s compassion for His captive people. Moses’ response is laced through with the awareness his leadership is being fueled from someplace deeper.
Can you think of times you asked yourself how you ever made it through?
I spoke with a husband who recalled a very rocky time in his marriage. He and his wife could no longer find reason enough to stay together and began looking for a way out. But for various reasons, they got beyond their impasse and were able to begin again. His comment, “I know we could not have done that on our own. The Lord just had to have been there.”
What he didn’t mention were those next measures they took just after their resolve; i.e. marriage counselling, changed behavior, the step back to reframe their relationship. Convinced things were hopeless, they somehow moved through. It was the “somehow” the husband remembered.
Are there burning bush experiences in our own lives — things we got through but don’t quite know how? Instances where we took that next step, and looking back realized there had to be something else in the picture, some rising energy we didn’t manufacture on our own?
In a 1646 letter, Vincent counsels one of his priests to lean back on this “something more.” “So, do not dwell any longer on what you are, but consider Our Lord close by you and within you, ready to put His hand to the work as soon as you call upon Him for help, and you will see that all will go well.” (Volume: 3 | Page#: 143)
For people passing through a hard stretch, there’s often some memorable image that lit their way and carried them to the other side. Moses had this unexplained fire. What image or experience of yours might fit such a pattern — a time when, looking back, you knew there had to be that something added, that factor or force that was more than the sum of your own strengths.
Might something like Moses’ words come to mind as we recall that extra something, this “someone more.” “Here I am,” he responded. And breaking through his own fears, he steps out to proclaim to the Israelites, “the Lord, the God of your Fathers and Mothers, the God of Abraham and Sarah, of Isaac and Jacob, has sent me to you.”