To make time for God means to turn aside and toward Him. He speaks when we listen with a heart willing to put self aside and make Him the focus of intimacy.
So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” (Exodus 3:4)
If we’re honest, we all have those ‘burning bush’ moments. I know I have. Usually, it’s when faced with a major decision crisis. Okay, Lord, You know that thing You do with the burning bush? Well, now would be a good time… Of course, Moses had no idea what was about to happen. He was oblivious, engrossed in his responsibilities in minding a herd of goats. The other ‘of course’ is that looking for a ‘sign’ isn’t quite the right thing to do. Still, we all have times when we wish God would simply grab our attention in a totally unmissable way – a burning bush, writing on the wall… That’s the weakness of human nature, and it’s an admission of our frailty and that we’re afraid to miss what we need.
Drastic times – the enslavement of God’s people – call for drastic measures like burning bushes. It’s also highly likely that God needed something dramatic to get through to this unlikely hero-in-the-making. But what today’s verse reveals to us is a small truth that is as powerful as the particular ‘sign’ He chose to use. Even a dramatic sign would be useless if we didn’t take time for God. Moses turned aside to look. He could have moved on or simply stared at it from a distance while it blazed away forever. But he turned aside and made time for God and God saw. He always sees and honours the heart that makes time for Him.
Time for God eliminates the need for a sign from God.
Gideon is another vivid example of God graciously offering a sign to unbelieving humanity. We easily forget, however, that these are Old Testament examples. These bold men of God lived outside the dispensation of the indwelling Spirit. They didn’t have the blessing and seal of the New Covenant living within them. God operated and interacted with them externally. We already have our sign – the risen, resurrected, ascended Christ. That is the only sign we will ever need. Just as important though, is today’s little nugget of truth. We need to turn aside to look. We already have the sign. Like Moses, we need to make time for God in order to hear what He has to say to us. It’s not a turning to things dramatic and seemingly super-spiritual. When we chase after external signs, we’ll most likely chase after things that are not from God at all.
Moses’ response to the sign was to turn aside and make time for God. We have our sign in Christ. He is ever before us to draw us, challenge us, encourage us, and strengthen us. Yet, for some reason, we look beyond the greatest sign humanity has ever been given. We want something bold and dramatic in the here and now. It’s an indication of our presumption and ‘lazy’ Christianity which demands a ‘move of God’ without us first making a move to God. Like Moses, we need to fix our eyes on the eternal sign – our ‘burning bush’ burns as brightly today as it ever did – and make time for God. Turning to God means turning away from the ordinary routines of life. It means drawing closer to Him in expectation and making time to listen. When He speaks to our hearts we will never need another sign.
We choose to make time for God.
It all comes down to choice – to free will, which God has graciously given. The sad truth is that life is busy, filled with demands, activities, and the clamouring noise of life. It’s easy to forget that God will always respect our free will. He will also never share His glory. If we’re hoping to hear ‘big things’ from God in the midst of hectic schedules crammed full of distractions, we’ll be disappointed. The awesome God of the universe is not going to compete with our noisy, jam-packed routines. Of course, He may do so in exceptional situations, but that’s His sovereign grace. On the whole, though, we must make time for God to hear from God. It’s our choice. The Bible is very clear – God desires to speak with us. If He doesn’t, we need to look to ourselves for the reason why.
Moses turned aside and God used that opportunity to initiate a relationship that heralded the Exodus. This dramatic event impacted humanity and has continued to unfold, even to the present day. Of course, if Moses hadn’t responded the way He did, God would have simply used someone else. But what we can learn from this wonderful encounter in the wilderness is relationship. From that moment on, Moses became God’s man. He was shaped, taught, and raised up by God Himself. It’s worth noting that this intimate, one-one-one relationship resulted in the manifestation of God’s glory. This humble goatherd who was once a prince was transformed through the simple truth that he chose to make time for God. A seemingly innocent action caused reaction that raised a nation and ultimately brought salvation to every one of us. We choose to move towards or away from our potential in God.
Power is released when we make time for God.
It’s an odd thing, but the truth is that God knows our responsibilities in life. He knows every single detail. I have found in my own life that when I make time for God, He releases the power and ability to achieve everything else. Our common excuse is that ‘there is no time’ in our busy schedules. We promise ourselves that ‘tomorrow’ we’ll make the effort. But tomorrow’s demands are as bad as today’s, and one day slides into the next slides into a week. We get so caught up in all we ‘have to do’ that we lose sight of the fact that many of those things aren’t necessary. They are absorbed into our schedules through desire or a sense of obligation. When we turn aside and make time for God, He reveals which are His will and which we should let go of.
Spending time with God makes letting go easy. see things from His perspective. He assigns our priorities and the ‘clutter’ we surround ourselves with falls away. Making time for God every day is the most important thing we will ever do. He helps us streamline our schedules by jettisoning unnecessary time-wasters, and He also helps us to accomplish the rest. There have been many days when I’ve looked at my commitments and fought the urge to dive straight in. The time available to do it all is hopelessly insufficient. But I can testify that time for God somehow releases His supernatural power in me. I cannot claim the glory for those days when I look back with a bemused ‘wow’ at all we achieved. We being God through me. When we honour Him by making time for Him, He graciously responds with supernatural power to accomplish all we must do.
Time for God means hearing from God.
Turning aside and to God carries spiritual expectation. It involves a determination to find out – to listen and to hear. If we keep our miraculous sign before us, we cannot help but have the expectation that God will speak. To have the great I AM speak with us, one-on-one, is an incredible privilege. It’s part of what our sign – the risen Lord Jesus – has promised us and bought for us. The sad reality is that we all too often miss this vital truth. Time for God isn’t an obligation. It’s an incredible blessing of grace purchased by the blood of the Son of God. So many of us go through life lamenting the fact that God doesn’t seem to speak to us. We’re constantly conscious that we need to hear from Him but never really do. When we make time for God, we will hear from God.
There is a danger in hurtling through life catching snatches of what He is saying to us. For one thing, it’s half the story. For another, it’s easy to misunderstand. Hearing from God means to be still, to listen, and then to obey. Those who truly hear God are those who obey. Obedience cannot be separated from hearing. But obeying what we think He is saying is as good as not obeying at all. To live the Christian life is to live as Jesus did – in full obedient surrender to the will of God. He is our perfect example. The Bible describes the moments when He separated Himself and made time for God. These were the moments when He heard His Father speak. If we need encouragement to turn aside from the demands of life, we need only look at all that Christ was able to accomplish.
Time for God is personal and intimate.
God responds to the heart that turns aside and towards Him. Today’s verse reminds us that God sees when we make time for Him. It was only when Moses turned aside that God spoke. But equally important is the truth that God spoke and in a way that was direct and personal. He called Moses by name. This wasn’t a general announcement to anyone who happened to be passing by. It was specific, an intimate call to fellowship specifically for Moses. Every single believer has the same privilege. He knows us by name. God knows the number of hairs on our heads. He knows our strengths, weaknesses, and the condition of our heart. More than that, He know the purpose for which He created us. Every single detail of our lives and who we are is written in the heart of God.
When Moses turned, God spoke and called Him by name. That is our pattern for our supernatural encounter with God. But as important is Moses’ response. His simple reply of ‘here am I’ opens the door to hearing God speak. We can turn aside, but to truly make time for God, we must be willing to hear. Moses didn’t rush in with a gazillion questions – I know I’d have had a good long list if confronted by a burning bush in the middle of nowhere. Instead, his reply reveals a surrendered, waiting heart. This is the heart that truly makes time for God. It is the heart willing to be still and to listen. Like Samuel, we must be respond with a heart emptied of self and focused on God alone: And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” (Samuel 3:10b)
Time for God is the critical priority of every day.
A common cry in the Church today is to hear the Lord speak and see Him move in mighty ways. We seem to live a ‘nostalgic’ faith, looking back to men like Moses or those Acts ‘heroes’ who seemed to hear God speak with clarity and power. But God has given us His Son as a sign and His Spirit as a seal. Our lack is not that God ‘works differently’ because He cannot change. It’s because we neglect this critical priority. If we truly desire to hear God speak, we must stop chasing after visible ‘signs’ and make time for God. He will always honour the living sacrifices of a broken heart and contrite spirit. If we put God first, He will put everything else in place and accomplish its achievement. We have no idea of the plans He may have for us until we turn aside to listen.
Father God, we thank You for the eternal supernatural sign of Your Son and the seal of Your Holy Spirit indwelling each one of us. Forgive us for our business. Help us to turn aside from the demands of life and place You first. Help us to honour You and empower us to live our lives as Moses did, in intimate relationship with You, hearing Your voice and obeying Your commands so that Your glory may be manifest in and through our lives.