Burning bushes and traffic jams crammed with heaven

Elizabeth Barrett Browning said

“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.”

If there was ever a quote for a Monday, it’s this one.

Browning is referencing a story from the third chapter of the book of Exodus, centering on God’s call on the life of Moses. Moses, on the run from Egypt [he shot a man there, just to watch him die…ok, not really, but he did kill a guy there], is living his life in obscurity as a shepherd. One day, he notices a bush that is on fire, yet it isn’t consumed. When he goes over to investigate, God speaks to him, “Take off your shoes,” he says, “for the ground you are standing on is holy.”  It is during this encounter that God gives Moses his calling, his mission, to be the liberator of his people from Egyptian slavery.

This is a powerful story.

Every time I read about Moses and this burning-but-not-burned-up bush I wonder, how many times had Moses been by this spot before? How many times had he passed this particular bush while leading his sheep to find a place to graze? How did this ordinary spot suddenly become holy?

Browning reminds us that the ground is always holy, the bush is always burning, God is always present. Sometimes we tune in. God isn’t the one who needs to “show up,” we do. We need to be aware that anywhere, anytime, at any moment God could be speaking to us, trying to get our attention.

Think about all that was on the line in this moment in Moses’ life: freedom for his people and redemption history as we know it.

What is hanging in the balance in your life? What if the cubical is always burning, and the traffic jam is crammed with Heaven? What if the mundane, ordinary, everyday moments we blow past actually have the opportunity to be encounters with the Divine?

What if, right now, God is trying to get you to focus, to tune in, to listen, to respond to him?

Can you imagine what might happen if we just stopped




and actually gave God the time and space to speak to us?

Have you noticed any burning bushes lately?

Could it be that they are all around us?

God is ready and waiting to speak. He is simply looking for people who are ready to stop and realize the ground they are on his actually holy.

2 thoughts on “Burning bushes and traffic jams crammed with heaven

  1. Pastor Josh this is so true. Now I know why I never liked shoes, I go barefoot year round. There is something special about the touch of Mother Earth (and yes she is sacred and holy to me) upon your bare feet.


    1. Mary,
      Thanks for reading! I agree with you! God made the earth, it’s part of his creation that he called ‘Good’; that means that the earth has a holiness and sacredness to it. God created us to be environmentalists–to tend, care for, steward, and carry creation forward. Thanks for sharing!



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