As I was preparing to move to Ethiopia, I was reflecting on the story of the burning bush. God told Moses to remove his shoes because the ground he was standing on was holy. I get that. But I don’t think God’s only purpose was to teach Moses some religious etiquette. He had some deeper meaning behind the order. What could it be? Let’s use some Biblical imagination. Maybe it was all about coming home to God.
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:1-6, ESV)
As a Finn, taking off your shoes when coming home is a no-brainer. Being at home means shoelessness. Moses had not felt at home ever in his life. In Egypt, he was a foreigner because he was of Hebrew origin. And in the desert, they thought he was an Egyptian. Moses had never felt at home with anyone. But here he was, for the first time in his life, he was told to come home to God and take his shoes off.
You might feel like an alien too. Maybe you’ve never been accepted by people. But you are acknowledged – and loved – by God. He welcomes you with open arms to him. He yearns to be with you, to know you, to love you.
The world will always disappoint us. But God will not. With him, we are always at home. We were made into his image and in him, we find peace, love, and home.
Precious for sure. But I think there are still other meanings in taking off your shoes when we come to God.
Taking off shoes at home also means you can be yourself. You don’t have to pretend to be something or someone else then you are. Because you are accepted as you are. And you don’t need to protect yourself against the elements of the world either. You are safe.
So when God calls Moses to come to him and take his shoes off, he is telling Moses that he can be himself with him. He called Moses and not anybody else. God knows Moses stutters yet he called him (and not Aaron or anybody else).
Coming home to God means also we can be ourselves with him. Blessedly, God knows us yet he loves us. And he has a plan for each of us. Being part of God’s mission is not about us pretending to be someone else. It’s about God working through imperfect people like you and me.
The biggest message we can ever deliver is that God wants to welcome all the misfits home to him. And it is possible because of Jesus. He has already prepared the way for us. Because of Jesus, we are all welcome to God just as we are.
Yes, God is holy and he wants to make us holy too. But we can’t make ourselves holy. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit can. First, we need to come to God so it can happen. But it will. By God’s grace.
Let us pray
Thank you for being our home in this world.
It is wonderful to be able to be at home no matter where in the world we are.
Thank you for desiring to be with us, no matter how imperfect we are.
And thank you for not giving up on us or leaving us where we are.
How amazing it is that you have wonderful plans for each of us!
Make us holy like you!
Use us for your glory!
Bless us according to your plan for us.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Isn’t it amazing to think about the Bible passage this way? God is not an angry God who harshly demands respect, instead, he is a loving Father who wants us to feel home with him just as we are. And, yes, he is holy and deserves respect and reverence. But his heart is for us. And that does make all the difference, doesn’t it? So do not let anything keep you from abiding in God. His heart is your true home.
Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim. You are loved beyond your wildest dreams.