We see traffic lights everyday whether we are out walking, driving the car or using public transport. Whether permanent traffic lights or temporary, they exist for the same purpose. They are there to bring order, to allow people to cross a road or a junction safely; they are there for our protection. When traffic lights don’t work well as they didn’t in our community recently there can be chaos; traffic gets jammed, everyone makes a decision about whether to stop or go based on their own understanding of what is unfolding in front of them rather than any external sense of order. The roads around Hextable were clogged! Tempers were frayed! Delays occurred. It was the exact opposite of ease of what traffic lights are meant to bring.
Several weeks ago we were reminded of the story of Moses and the burning bush. Moses was going about his everyday business as a shepherd when an angel appeared to him from the middle of a burning bush. Whilst a burning bush was not, in itself, an unusual event in the desert, there was clearly something different about this particular bush as it was not burning up.
The Bible tells us that Moses stopped and ‘turned aside’ to look. God had his attention! I wonder how many times I go about my normal routine, nothing spectacular nor out of the ordinary and God tries to get my attention? How aware am I of God in the everyday or am I too caught up in what I am doing? What is my equivalent of the burning bush?? In choosing to stop and turn aside Moses then hears God calling him by name; he listens to what God is saying and finally, after offering the excuses I know I at times can come up with, like 'Who am I for such a task?' for, 'No-one will believe me?' Send someone else more gifted, with more time, more able to speak out, more courageous, just ‘more’ than me?!
Moses does what God asks. He obeys and goes to Egypt.
God doesn’t ask us if we are capable, He asks us if we are willing. A member of our church family responded to this preach saying, "it’s just like the traffic lights: Stop! Listen! Obey!"
Since that time we have been trying to make further sense of this clear picture as a staff team, as a PCC, in our prayer meetings and Life Groups, in a recent worship evening, choosing to stop, to come aside and listen to really hear what God is saying to us and how we need to respond. We know that Jesus often ‘stopped’; He took time out of His everyday to spend time listening to, and being with, His heavenly Father. How much more do I need to stop, to choose to step aside from what I had planned to do, to be inconvenienced like the Good Samaritan, to have my focus switched and onto Him. Jesus ‘listened’ to His Father and, having listened, chose to obey, ultimately to go to the cross for you and me, to conquer sin and death. Jesus wrestled with what God asked Him ‘Father, if you are willing take this cup from me …’; He knows that we don’t find it easy to always do as we’re asked, to be obedient, … He understands the cost and out of love for you and me, He chose to pay that price.
So, I’m learning to ‘stop’, to forget all that I have done or not done and remember all that God has done for me. I’m learning to be still and listen, neither come easily or naturally; to ask God what He wants rather than present to Him my list of wants and preferences, requests and petitions.
That amber traffic light is also a warning to ‘get ready’
Get ready to stop or get ready to go, to be prepared for what is coming next. So I’m learning how to be prepared for what comes next; to trust God for the next step. To believe that He will provide all that is necessary. To let go of what I hold onto oh too tightly.
To trust that He is good … all of the time.
To stand in the confidence that I am loved, chosen and, like Moses, called by name.
Then I need to ‘Go’ and obey God … wherever, whenever and to whom ever He sends me, to be His hands and feet, to speak the words He gives, to bring comfort and hope, to be His fragrance in my home and community. Thank you John for calling it out as the traffic lights, for helping us remember and reminding us to ‘Stop! Listen! and Obey!