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Looking for Signs, Hearing from the Lord

One day Moses was tending the flock…He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai…There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up.  “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.” When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied…Exodus 3:1-4 (NLT)

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice…1 Kings 19:11-12 (KJV)

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way…he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 5He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting…Acts 9:1-5 (NRSV)

 I continue this week with the subject of storms, and more specifically, how to move out of the storm. These three passages point to stormy and “post-stormy” periods in the lives of three biblical figures: Moses, Elisha, and Saul (who became known to most of us as Paul). In all three situations, these imperfect individuals were in the midst of some difficult periods in their life (or living in self-imposed exile because of a difficult period). In these times of their life, coming out of these storms meant looking for signs that these storms were over, and waiting to hear from the Lord that it was time to move on.

Moses had fled to the land of Midian after killing an Egyptian overseer in a fit of rage; he was living in self-imposed exile while he sorted out his identity crisis, having been raised as Egyptian royalty even though his bloodline was the same as the slaves that made his life of luxury possible. Elisha was under siege for doing God’s work, and his life was under threat as he desperately pleaded with the Lord for relief. Saul, meanwhile, was engage in intense persecution and violence, hunting down Christians – followers of the “Way” – like they were rats in the alley. Some of these storms were self-imposed; others were the by-product of faithfulness to God. Either way, they were in a storm, or struggling to live life in the midst of an unresolved storm; anybody who has ever been through a storm knows how badly you want that storm to end so that you can move on with your life.

For each of them, the resolution came because they saw a sign and heard from the Lord. For Moses, that sign came in the form of a bush that was burning but that would not be consumed. For Elisha, the sign came in a tremendous and awesome display of nature’s might; and for Saul, the sign came in being knocked off his donkey on the way to Damascus. But all three of them also heard from the Lord, whether in the form of a “still, small voice,” or the booming baritone that we can imagine as God spoke to Moses and Saul.

These biblical scenes teach us three important lessons about how God prepares us to move into the next stage of our lives:
1. No two situations are the same, and no two individuals are going to have the same experience of God;
2. The combo nature of the signs and the voice from the Lord together means that God will make it difficult for you to ignore the sign or write-off the voice.

3. When the sign comes and the voice follows, listen up! A great change may be about to take place in your life (Moses and Saul); and at the very least, God is going to encourage you for the work that you have left to do (Elisha).

Oh God, enable us to see your signs, and to hear your voice. Encourage us to carry on with the great tasks that you have for us, and to be ready for the work that lies ahead. We look to you to guide us after the storm and into the plans that you have for the living of these days.

Prayer focus for the week: paying greater attention to the signs and the voices in our midst.

Posted in Pastor's Blog.


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