Thursday, March 7, 2013

Removing Our Sandals

As you read this post, you are may be going through the Lenten practice of reflection on and recommitment to God’s purpose(s) in your life. This forty-day period of intense devotional preparation for Easter, based on Jesus’ own wilderness preparation, is one of the places where sacred space is needed.
You might be reminded of the February Midbar post that spoke of the need for sacred space in our lives. We explored the notion that sacred space often is created by God to help us experience the divine in new and significant ways.

Experiencing God in New Ways

Even though few have had a “burning bush” experiences, Moses’ story as seen in Exodus 3:4-7, 10 (I’m using the CEB below) can tell us a lot about how we might experience God’s presence.

God Calls Us by Name

The first step to finding sacred space is to recognize that God is calling out to us: When the LORD saw that he was coming to look, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” This prompted the following response: Moses said, “I’m here.” We can see the importance of being still enough to hear God’s voice calling out to us.

God is Awesome!

Next, we should recognize the holiness and awe-inspiring nature of God. It is easy to forget we are in the presence of the one who not only created us but the entire universe. Then the LORD said, “Don’t come any closer! Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground.”
By commanding Moses to take his sandals off, which were coated with sheep manure, God is indicating that Moses needs to separate himself from the stinky stuff he had been carrying with him. Then we see the result of Moses’ divine encounter: ‘Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.’
Other scripture shows the importance of removing our sandals. Joshua 5:15 The commander of the LORD's heavenly force said to Joshua, "Take your sandals off your feet because the place where you are standing is holy." So Joshua did this. Acts 7:33 The Lord continued, Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 

A Response is Needed

Although there are times when it is enough to simply recognize the awesome wonder of God, most often a response on our part is required. God calls us to be his hands and feet to fulfill the purpose of establishing his kingdom on earth. God clearly wanted a response from Moses. Then the LORD said, “I've clearly seen my people oppressed in Egypt. I’ve heard their cry of injustice because of their slave masters. I know about their pain ... So get going. I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
As we encounter God on our journey through Lent, it will be helpful to remember Moses’ burning bush experience. First, God called. And, Moses heard. Then, Moses took off his sandals in God’s holy presence. After which, Moses responded.
I would like to leave you with a prayer for sacred space so that you might hear God, recognize his holiness and respond to bring the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Pray with Your Sandals Off

Dear Lord,
Help me to be open to you for this time as I put aside the cares of this world. Fill my mind with your peace and your love.
May I never take the gift of freedom for granted. You gave me the great blessing of freedom of spirit. Fill my spirit with your peace and your joy.
Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence. Teach me to recognise your presence in others. Fill my heart with gratitude for the times your love has been shown to me through the care of others.
Now Lord, give me strength and patience for today … and your hope for tomorrow.
Glory be to God. Amen

Imagine Jesus sitting or standing near you and open your heart to him.

What feelings are rising in you as you pray?
How is he calling you to be transformed?
How is he asking you to transform the world around you?

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