I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.
Today’s Scripture: Exodus 4:10-17 (Common English Bible)
10 But Moses said to the Lord, “My Lord, I’ve never been able to speak well, not yesterday, not the day before, and certainly not now since you’ve been talking to your servant. I have a slow mouth and a thick tongue.”
11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who gives people the ability to speak? Who’s responsible for making them unable to speak or hard of hearing, sighted or blind? Isn’t it I, the Lord? 12 Now go! I’ll help you speak, and I’ll teach you what you should say.”
13 But Moses said, “Please, my Lord, just send someone else.”
14 Then the Lord got angry at Moses and said, “What about your brother Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak very well. He’s on his way out to meet you now, and he’s looking forward to seeing you. 15 Speak to him and tell him what he’s supposed to say. I’ll help both of you speak, and I’ll teach both of you what to do. 16 Aaron will speak for you to the people. He’ll be a spokesperson for you, and you will be like God for him. 17 Take this shepherd’s rod with you too so that you can do the signs.”
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
The conversation between Moses and God in today’s scripture reading took place on the “holy ground” of the burning bush. Here’s the back story:
Moses had left Egypt many years before because in anger he killed an Egyptian taskmaster. He knew that his days would be short if he stayed in Egypt so he fled for his life. Years later he settled in Midian. He was a shepherd in his new life, keeping watch over the flocks of his father-in-law, going about his daily routine when, at the age of 80, he saw a strange sight. In the distance he saw a bush on fire. But the strange thing is, as he watched, he noticed that it was not consumed by the fire. It didn’t reduce to ashes but rather it continued to burn.
He moved closer to see the strange sight. When he did, he heard a voice. The voice said, “Moses, Moses.”
He said, “Here I am.”
The voice said, “Take off your shoes, Moses, you’re on holy ground.” So he removed his sandals—an act of willing submission.
Moses was on holy ground. The word “holy” means, quite simply, “different” because it describes something or someone that is related to God in a particular way. It means “set apart for a special purpose”—a divine purpose. Moses was on ground that was different from other ground. He was on ground set apart for a special purpose. Moses was on holy ground—that place where one encounters God.
It’s helpful, then, to think of Holy Ground as wherever and whenever God has our attention long enough and focused enough to experience God. I wonder if God has Moses take off he shoes so he won’t run! So he’ll stay there in one place. Or perhaps the shoes need to come off so that he will be really grounded, really connected to the experience.
Holy Ground is wherever and whenever we experience God’s call on our lives. Every Christian has a calling, a vocatio, a mission, a vocation, a life lived in partnership with God and God’s purposes in the world.
Parker Palmer says that the search for calling begins as we listen to our life, as we search for our truest self. We might say that when we listen to our lives, we have stepped onto Holy Ground where God begins to speak to us.
Frederick Buechner defines vocation or calling as “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” Our calling is always connected to the needs of the world around us, but also connected to who we are and what gives us joy.
Your calling is more than your job, though it may include your job; it is your life-work. Holy Ground is where you explore deeply important questions: God, what am I called to do? What is my purpose in life? What is my next step?
In today’s reading, we see Moses wrestling with his calling. Holy Ground is the place where we argue with God—where we wrestle with God and with ourselves. Almost every one of us argues with God when the call on our lives to serve begins to become clear. Almost every one of us argues and wrestles with God when faith and reason seem to clash. Almost every one of us argues with God when we don’t feel that we can really make a difference. Our arguments are not all that new. In fact, they’re found throughout the pages of scripture spoken by the people whom God calls.
Moses responded by arguing with God. Moses said,
- “Who am I, Lord, that I would go do that? I’m nobody.”
- “Who are You? When I go back and tell them that you’ve sent me to set the people free, what name am I going to give them?”
- “What if they don’t believe me? Why would they believe me? What if I’m rejected?”
- “I’m not a good speaker. I’m not eloquent of speech.”
- “Lord, please, please, Lord, send somebody else.”
God has an answer for every one of these arguments and what Moses learned and what we learn in the holy place of arguing and wrestling is fourfold:
- We learn that we are not alone. Holy ground is where we’re reminded of God’s presence—that we are never alone.
- We learn to test our call. Holy ground is where we test our call and come to know it is from the one true God.
- We learn that God provides us with what we need. Holy ground is where God provides us with everything we need.
- We learn that we have a voice. Holy Ground is where we find our voice.
There’s a lot to be said about Holy Ground, but I’ll leave it with one more thought: In an ordinary day when going about your ordinary business, pay attention to what is going on around you and within you. You may find yourself standing on Holy Ground. Moses was just going about his ordinary business when he noticed the extraordinary and found himself standing on Holy Ground. He took his shoes off and stayed in that place long enough to discern what is going on.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote,
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
Hymn: “Lord, Speak to Me” by Frances R. Havergal (1872)
Lord, speak to me that I may speak
In living echoes of your tone.
As you have sought, so let me seek
Your erring children, lost and lone.
Oh, lead me, Lord, that I may lead
The wand’ring and the wav’ring feet.
Oh, feed me, Lord, that I may feed
Your hungry ones with manna sweet.
Oh, teach me, Lord, that I may teach
The precious truths which you impart.
And wing my words that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.
Oh, fill me with your fullness, Lord,
Until my very hearts o’erflows
In kindling thought and glowing word,
Your love to tell, your praise to show.
Oh, use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as you will, and when, and where
Until your blessed face I see,
Your rest, your joy, your glory share.
Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these reflections on a portion of scripture. I hope you will carry these with you throughout your day and night.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster