In Exodus 3 we read these words: “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
Today I want to talk about one of the most important functions we have as SS teachers: helping our students see God at work. Moses took the time to see why the burning bush was not consumed by the fire. Because he took the time, God spoke to him. We live in a fast paced, tunnel vision world. It is time to help students slow down and see where God is working.
As we prepare to teach every week, hopefully we have two foci in mind: studying the text and finding ways to help our folks discover its application for themselves, and providing an environment where students/disciples can experience God in their lives. Though we may not have a burning bush experience every day, God is always at work in our world. We simply need to help others see God at work. So how do we do that?
Share your own burning bush experiences. I will never forget Dr. Karen Joines in an OT class at Samford University talking about the Jewish perspective about God and life. When his son was born and he was taking him home from the hospital, he noticed the trees’ branches arching across the road. The wind was blowing hard enough for the branches to almost touch each other in the middle of the road. To the common person, it was simply the wind blowing. Dr. Joines, however, saw it as God’s approval of the new birth as the trees were clapping. Some may see it as sentimental, but it reminded me that God is all around us and wanting us to take notice.
At other times, it may be a tragic experience and we are simply helping a person see where God is wanting us to bring something good into the situation like our response to a natural disaster as a class. (I keep in mind Romans 8:28 at this point.)
Have an environment where others share their experiences. Perhaps some may feel intimidated by the thought in class, but allow them to share by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or other ways as they see God working in our world until trust is built. Of course for people to share intimate experiences in class, we must have a level of trust. Other opportunities outside of class experiences make this a more plausible possibility as you have socials, service projects and opportunities for people to bond. As people realize that another in the class has something to say about how God is working and may help them, they will feel more comfortable sharing and listening closely to another’s opinion.
Help others flesh out what God is saying to them through the experience. At this point we are simply life coaches asking powerful questions as people process what God is saying. Typically when God shows me something, I should be asking, “What does God want me to do?” So, as teachers, we are asking questions like: What do you think God is saying to you through this experience? How can we be praying for you as you process this experience?
The bottom line is: all of us need people reminding us to look for God or we spend our entire lives focused on the trivial and miss the eternal. Here the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning –
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only ~he who sees~ takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries
Do we recognize God speaking to us from every place and every bush or do we just sit round picking blackberries and making blackberry jam?