This year’s Thrive Conference is a celebration of God’s audacious love: What it looks like, how it overcomes our greatest fears, and how it inspires us. We’re thrilled to announce that, in conjunction with the conference, we’ll be releasing a NEW devotional! On this 31-day devotional journey, you’ll discover the meaning, power, and purpose of God’s audacious love—and be inspired to share it with the world. Want a sneak peek? Our final article of the series is from Bianca Olthoff, one of this year’s amazing speakers. And don’t forget to join us for the Thrive Conference this weekend!
Walking along the dusty desert road, a man named Moses is caught off guard. He sees a bush and it’s inflamed, but not burning.
Ablaze and lit up, the bush flickers off flecks of fire but the bush, leaves, and stems are not consumed. Slowly, cautiously, Moses approaches the burning bush.
This is where I want us to be. Here. Right here.
Maybe you aren’t the church kid who knows the nuances of Bible stories, like the one about the giant fish who swallowed a man and he lived to tell about it, or the guy who made a loaf of bread over a fire of his own fecal matter, but most of us have heard about a man named Moses.
Perhaps you’re like me and slightly (read: totally) jealous that he had a clear conversation with God on what to do with his life because of a burning bush. Yes, it was like God’s telephone directly to Moses with a mission of what he was supposed to do. How can I not be jealous of that?
So many times I find myself walking in a proverbial desert, wanting desperately to hear from God. Amidst a dry and arid landscape, there I times I find myself asking, “What am I supposed to do with my life?!” You and I may not be Moses, but if we take a look at his life, we can learn from his desert season. Through that, we can see that the same things that God requested of him are the same things that God requests of you.
We are told in Exodus 3 that God spoke to Moses through a burning bush. As he spoke to Moses, he asked him to do something specific. Moses carried a rod in his hand and God asked him to lay it down.
No big deal, right? Just lay the stick down. Done.
We can read that portion and not see anything big about that. But through the flames of fire, God asked Moses to lay down a part of who he was. For Moses, the rod represented his identity, income, and influence. As a shepherd, his rod was his tool in caring for sheep. But it was also a marker of identification. How did people in the community know what Moses did? They saw his staff. It was his business card.
Moses of Egypt
It’s like seeing a guy wearing a stethoscope around his neck. We can safely assume he’s a doctor. In the same way, we can identify Moses as a shepherd by his staff.
As a man with livestock, Moses also had income. The rod was a symbol of income because if you had a rod, you had animals. If you had animals, you had income. And if you had income, you had influence. He was an entrepreneur and businessman taking care of his family. Minding his own business (literally), his life was interrupted through fire.
The invitation for Moses to lay down his influence and income and identity was a step of faith that I’m not sure would have occurred if the supernatural act of a bush ablaze were not seen.
Sometimes God has to move in insane ways when he asks us to do insane things.
Though this is not the case in all situations, I wholeheartedly believe Moses wouldn’t have been as committed to the call (go back to the country where you killed a man, speak to the most powerful man in the known world [Pharaoh], tell him to release all the slaves, and lead them to the Land of Milk and Honey) if he didn’t have a burning bush talk to him.
I love that Mo didn’t jump up with excitement and glee. I love that his reaction was reluctant, skeptical, and even scared. He made up excuses for why he wasn’t the man for the job and even tried abdicating his responsibilities.
Haven’t we been like Moses? At one point or another, we are called to do something and we experience the exact same thought pattern Moses did. We make up excuses, we don’t think we are good enough, we think people will think we are crazy, or—out of sheer desperation—we try to think of someone else to live out that dream.
But the truth is, the purpose God has given you is for you.
I have a vision of people young and old, rich and poor, male and female living lives ablaze. Like the bush in the Sinai desert that intrigued Moses and beckoned him to draw near, I see that for us… today… right now.
My heart is to see a movement of God’s people living extraordinary lives. I’m tired of seeing children of the Living God walking around half-dead. Instead of chasing the purpose created for them, they are afraid of what pursuing God means.
- “God, I want to serve you, but don’t let this happen!”
- “God, I want to serve you, but please don’t make me poor!”
- “God, I want to serve you anywhere… except Africa!”
- “God, I want to serve you, but please don’t allow anyone in my life to get sick!”
- “God, I want to serve you, but please don’t make me let go of my super-hot heathen boyfriend!”
I get it. We have lots of fears. When God asks us to pick up our cross and follow him, we may become reluctant and want to run our own lives. Moses was just like that. But God interrupted his comfortable life, just like God wants to interrupt ours.
About Bianca Juarez Olthoff:
I’m a writer and teacher in love with two men: Jesus and my husband, Matt.
I didn’t learn how to read until I was eleven, but now I can’t put down books. I ask questions, but most times I don’t want the answer unless it’s something I want to hear. I believe in a faithful God, even when I’m faithless. I’m a woman who loves God and is committed to speaking truth when it hurts, loving when it’s hard, and living life out loud.
I spend most of my time working as Chief Storyteller for The A21 Campaign, a global anti-human trafficking organization. By day I’m a freedom writer who advocates for justice, but at night I’m a step-mom who loves to have dance parties with Parker, Ryen, and Ricci [aka The Cutest Dog In The World].
Passionate about God’s word, I teach around the globe and blog about life, love, and the pursuit of Jesus. Whether discussing topics from justice to pop culture, I’ve spent ten years building the Church and mobilizing God’s people to action alongside Matt, Executive Director and Pastor for Project Europe in Costa Mesa, California.