The Hope of Flaming Shrubbery
A devotional by Malinda Fugate
Exodus 3 (NIV)
Exodus 3 (NIV)
The sun was hot and the air was dry. The shepherd followed his flock over every stone of this wilderness, and they were far from home. He looked up as Mount Horeb, the mountain of God, towered above him. A hush seemed to settle over the valley. As he turned to tend a wayward lamb, something caught his eye.
Suddenly, the shepherd was mesmerized. There was a bush, like many similar bushes he passed along his journey. But unlike the branches that scratched his ankles and tore his robes, this bush was engulfed in flames. Yet the leaves were not reduced to ashes, nor was a single twig going up in smoke. While the shepherd marveled, the Lord called to him from the shrub. This ordinary day just became extraordinary.
The shepherd removed his sandals, for he was on holy ground. He listened intently as God spoke to him from that bush on fire, as his life dramatically changed course. The shepherd had been running from his complicated past, unsure of where he belonged – among the oppressed people of his birth or his adopted Egyptian family – the oppressors. Now he knew that God was watching, and, more importantly, that God had compassion for His persecuted people. It was time for a rescue and the shepherd was chosen to lead the way.
“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.’” (Exodus 3:16)
From this bush afire came hope. Not because of the miracle in the brambles, but because of Who spoke from the fire. The very source of hope, the Almighty God, made a promise to His people that He would surely keep. They would be released from their slavery and given freedom in a land of promise.
Hope came personally for the shepherd, Moses, too. The Lord had His eyes on Moses since birth, through the brightest days of his Egyptian childhood to the darkest moments of his adulthood. Moses could traipse through the farthest edges of the wilderness and still not be out of the Lord’s sight. Not only would God redeem his past, but the blessings in store for his future were beyond imagination.
Would the weary sheep-tender have believed it if he knew the adventure he was beginning with His loving Heavenly Father? Could he have possibly grasped the confrontation with Pharaoh, the dramatic parting of the sea, or the close friendship with Almighty God that was to come?
At first, all Moses saw was wilderness and then a burning bush. The Israelites only saw the daily torment of slavery. But hope was alive and a rescue was coming. God was watching and never left them. So, too, are we watched in our wilderness. Our complicated pasts and difficult circumstances are in the hands of the same Almighty God who spoke from flames and parted a sea. This God loves us as passionately as He loved Moses. He has purpose for our past and present, with hope for a future beyond our imagination.
Do not despair when you only see wilderness. Many generations later, God’s people were once again captive, this time in exile. But God spoke words of hope to them again: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
Our God is a rescuer. We see how He brings His people out of all forms of wilderness over and over. He is faithful to keep His promises and full of compassion. You are His beloved child, He is watching you, and He never leaves you. Because of His love, you have hope.
Malinda Fugate writes from the heart.
Though she serves full time as the Children’s Education Director at a church in Southern California, she is also a crafter of words published in books. Her writing includes children's faith resources, commercial copywriting, and various faith-based stage and screenplays.
Malinda invites you to explore the various 3:16s in the Bible with her new book, The Other Three Sixteens (published by Ambassador International in May 2020).
She also invites you to read her previously published books: Bible Time for Active Kids, which is an activities-based devotional that is available for purchase on Amazon.com, and The Pen and the Sword: Connecting With the Word of God, which is an interactive creative writing journal.
Malinda earned a communications degree with a theatre emphasis from Azusa Pacific University, and then worked behind the scenes at the Los Angeles Salem radio stations, including The Fish and KKLA.
When she's not writing or working at church, Malinda might be creating art, reading, or exploring the many adventures to be found in the Los Angeles area. She lives by the beach with her pup, Yoshi. Visit Malinda online via https://www.malindafugate.com.