“Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.” (Luke 5: 3-6 ESV)
The disciples were experienced fishermen. They knew the lake of Gennesaret intimately having fished it for years. We’re told they fished all night and caught nothing. And this relative newcomer whom they knew to NOT be a fisherman tells them to cast their nets out again. What would he know?
A Love Affair
Jesus did and said things differently. He came with a message of love. A message that focused on the heart, the core of our humanness. When challenged by a Pharisee to identify what was most important, Jesus responded with two commands: “Love the Lord you God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-39 ESV abr).
He’s called us into a love affair.
I find it easy to forget this. Especially with the busyness of life there are so many distractions to these two commands. As we all know being in relationships a love affair takes work. Lots of it. From both parties. We very easily get comfortable and settle into a way of life where perhaps the sizzle has diminished and we’re mostly satisfied with how our relationship is motoring along.
I find the same applies to our relationship with Jesus.
And then a bump in the road occurs which adds further distraction. Children come along and demand our attention. Lots of it. Sickness in the family, elderly parents needing caring, job transfers interstate or overseas, etc, etc. And all impact our love affair with our partner. And with our Lord.
Usually when the bumps in the road occur our routines change. Spending that quality time together with your partner suddenly becomes harder. Time passes, perhaps lots of it, and you realise you haven’t had a date night for ages. Similarly, with the Lord. You know He’s always there but you’ve been so busy lately (doing good things) you just haven’t had any time to spend with him. You get to church and in the drive home commit to yourself to spend more time with the Lord in the next week. But, the next week comes and still nothing happens.
A couple of times in the last few weeks I’ve noticed something different in the story of the “burning bush.” Moses had been in the wilderness for forty years. He was going through the motions in life being a good faithful shepherd of his father-in-law’s flock. One day, he was leading the flock and “came to Horeb, the mountain of God.And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn asideto see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”” (Exodus 3: 2-4 ESV)
Moses could have ignored the unusual sight. No doubt it was a little frightening and many of us may have simply fled. But we’re told Moses chose to “turn aside.” God provided the burning bush so Moses could choose to enquire.
Only yesterday, I had an opportunity to spend time with two members of my prayer team. I rarely get to see them face to face as we mostly interact via email. There was a burning bush moment. But I chose to leave as I was tired and wanted to get home. All I had to do was simply enquire. It would have taken fifteen minutes of my time. Here was an opportunity for me to encourage and be encouraged. I knew immediately as I drove away I missed an opportunity.
Often we get caught up in the processes of living the Christian life: prayer times, Bible reading, meeting together, etc, rather than reflecting on how these are purely simply opportunities to allow the Lord to do His work. If we quickly read the required Bible reading for the day before rushing out and don’t spend any time reflecting on it, then we haven’t “turned aside”. We’ve simply gone through the motions. Read less verses and simply allow the Lord to open our eyes to what He might be saying to us.
Burning Bushes in every season
Irrespective of what season we’re in, God is there. He knows that we’re in a season of child-rearing, for example, and how time and energy consuming it is. But choose to believe there are moments when you can “turn aside” to look and He’ll be there. Because He loves us. He isn’t a lover that fails us. He is good all the time.
Sometimes the bush will be far more significant like Moses and the disciples experienced. They chose to “turn aside” and what they received was incredible. Moses heard his name called; the disciples caught a record haul of fish. This was the beginning of a whole new life for them. May we all respond similarly when the Lord opens a door for us.
Have any of you experienced a moment recently when you simply responded to a nudge from the Holy Spirit by turning aside to it and experienced something special?