Wednesday, October 31

Every common bush afire with God

Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "Aurora Leigh" VII.821-22

Few lines capture as profoundly the mystery of God and his ways.

One of the most remarkable gifts God has given mankind is the freedom to choose. We can choose to see God in every common bush, or we can see bushes and pluck berries. The choice is ours. How we see the common bushes of life determines how we embrace life and God.

Is God really in every common bush? Is he in the coffee cup sitting by my side, or the laptop sitting on my desk? Is there really such a thing as a "holy telephone" or an "anointed paper clip"? Is that what Browning is trying to say?

I believe she is hinting we have the choice about what we choose to believe about God. We choose our responses to the things that come into our lives. It is like the story of two prisoners gazing out from behind bars – one sees mud and the other stars. Life can be seen from either perspective, mud or stars. Seeing things from God's perspective or choosing to see what literally stands before us. Perspective is everything.

When Moses encountered the burning bush in the wilderness what first amazed him, "though the bush was on fire it did not burn up."

When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am."

Does God still call us from the common bushes? I believe He does. But only when we choose to see, hear, and perceive Him in all things. Our response has to be the same as Moses, "Here I am, Lord."

When someone is late for an appointment that we have killed ourselves to be on time for, we have the choice to see a bush "afire with God" or a common bush to sit round and pluck blackberries (and fume!) Our common response is frustration and thinking of wasted time. But if every common bush is afire with God, is there always a spiritual reason or significance for even delayed appointments?

Elisabeth Elliot elaborates on Psalm 16:5, "Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure." She comments,

"I know of no greater simplifier for all of life. Whatever happens is assigned. Does the intellect balk at that? Can we say that there are things which happen to us which do not belong to our lovingly assigned "portion" (This belongs to it, that does not?) Are some things...out of the control of the Almighty? Every assignment [common bush] is measured and controlled for my eternal good. As I accept the given portion other options are canceled. Decisions become much easier, directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter."

I think the key word in the above wise words is, "...as I accept the given portion..." As we choose, accept life as it comes assigned to us from a loving Father, we indeed learn to see "every common bush afire with God."

2 comments:

Aussie John said...

Guy,

I agree. What we choose to believe about God is immaterial to Him, He is Sovereign, and His will WILL be done.

There are times when we act foolishly, or sinfully, when He lifts His hand and we suffer the repercussions, but His eye is still on "the sparrow", and the foolish, or sinful act is the burning bush.

GuyMuse said...

John,

Good thoughts, John. This EBB quote has always intrigued me, as well as the Elliot comment on Ps. 16.