ďWhat do you want to be?Ē
September 1, 2002
††††††††††† Do you remember the question I asked the children during the childrenís time?† I asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up.† Did you hear all the answers?† I have asked my daughter, Hollie, this question several times, and every time I ask it she gives me a different answer.† Itís not because she canít make up her mind, itís because each new experience for her is something exciting.† She wants to do many things because every new job she hears about and learns about sounds fun.† That is why I love talking to children because they teach us so much about the joys of life, and what is so great about their answers to my question is that, for them, they are uninhibited by the realities of life. †Nothing is impossible for them.† They just want to do something that will make them happy, and they want to be something that is fun.† Oh, if only life could be that simple, if only life could be that easy.†
As adults, we certainly know that we donít always get to do what we wish for, nor do we always get to be who we really want to be.† We understand that each one of us has certain limitations, whether it is intellectual, physical, emotional, social, or economical, that keeps us from what we really want to be.†
I bet every one of you here remember what you wanted to be when you were a child.† I bet some of you wanted to be a doctor, but then you got older and found out that biology or chemistry or anatomy was not your cup of tea, or medical school just wasnít going to be possible.† I bet some of you here wanted to be a police office or firefighter, but then as you got older you learned how dangerous these can be.† How about a dancer or a nurse or a vet?† How about a pastor or a farmer or a teacher or a fighter pilot?† Okay, that was me.† Yes, I wanted to be a fighter pilot and fly fighter jets, but the realities of life set in and my eyes got too bad, Iím not smart enough to understand avionics, aerodynamics, thrust to weight ratio, or navigation, and Iím a kind of afraid of heights, so that pretty much did me in, but thanks be to God, God had other plans for me.†
††††††††† Even getting a college degree in a certain field doesnít mean that we will be doing what we went to college to do.† Did you know that somewhere around 93% of college graduates do not go on to do the job their degree is in?† For a tremendous majority of us, we wake up on morning and realize that we are doing something completely different than what we thought we would be doing.† I graduated with a degree in aviation administration, my first job was in trucking, and now Iím a pastor.† The fact of the matter is that just because one has reached adulthood doesnít mean that one has stopped trying to answer the question, what do you want to be when you grow up.†††
††††††††† It doesnít matter if you are young in age or young in heart, it doesnít matter if you are just starting school, working in a particular career, or are retired, there is a desire, I hope, in all of us to find, once and for all, the perfect niche for us in the world, the right job that fits us, the right work that gives us a sense of meaning and purpose, and isnít that really what all of us want in life, to do something meaningful, to have a purpose, to do the thing God intended for us to do, and to be who God intended us to be.†
After hearing the scripture for today, I know what some of you are asking yourself, ďGosh, if only I could have a burning bush experience, then I would know for sure.† If only God would come to me in some amazing way and tell me what Iím supposed to be in life, it sure would make things a lot easier and quicker.Ē† But maybe that is the problem, we are a people who want instant answers and quick gratification.† We donít like to wait, we want things to happen now, so we have fast food restaurants, high-speed internet access, emails, and instant messaging.† For us, the mail is too slow and even fax machines arenít fast enough.†
We live in such a fast paced society that for most of us, we donít know when we are coming or when we are going.† Einstein was right, time is relative, because the older we get the faster time goes.† Before you know it, it is time to go to bed, a day has come and gone, and in only a few short hours it is time to get up again and start all over with our daily routines.†
We are so focused on our daily lives, our daily schedules of school, practices, church meetings, social functions, and up-coming events and deadlines that it is easy for us to miss what is going on around us.† Even if there was a burning bush, knowing me, I would probably drive right on by it, and say something like, ďOh, look a burning bush.Ē† I read something funny on the internet from a person who said, ďI wonder if God really intended for the Israelites to be in captivity for 400 years, or is that just how long it took for someone to actually stop and turn aside and see it.Ē†††††††
††††††††† But there are others of you, who aren't living a fast-paced life style.† In fact, your time is much more in your control.† Being retired, certainly has its benefits.† You probably feel like you have a new lease on life.† For twenty, thirty, even forty years, you have worked at either one job your whole life or several jobs, but that is now all behind you, and you are adjusting to life without work, adjusting to a new role and identity for you.† And your not done with life yet, are you?
††††††††† It's unfortunate that in our society, our American society, we put much more emphasis on what a person does than on who a person is.† Our careers become our identity, a piece of ourselves, and when our careers are finished, a piece of us is lost. You still believe you have some things to do and some energy to give, don't you?† Just because your retired doesn't mean that you don't want a burning bush experience, because you still want to do something meaningful.† You still want to have a purpose in life.†
††††††††† All of us want that.† All of us want God to give our life validation, security, and peace of mind that we are not just going through the motions, that we are not just wasting our gifts, that we matter in Godís plan.†
But, my friends, if we continue to go through our life wanting God to give us a burning bush experience to either make our life more convenient, or to give our life some meaning, then we will miss something far greater: the presence and voice of God.†
††††††††† Brothers and sisters, the good news of our text today is not the burning bush.† It is the presence of the transcendent, almighty, powerful God, who is the creator and sustainer of all that there is, the only one can set a bush on fire without it being consumed.† But more than that, the good news of our text today is also the voice of this same God, who is also a personal God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God we know in Jesus Christ, who comes to us one by one, who seeks a relationship with us, who speaks to us.†
††††††††† The problem isn't that we haven't seen a burning bush, the problem is that our hearts and minds are so preoccupied with finding some sign out there in the world, outside ourselves, that we cannot see God's presence with us and hear God's voice speak to us.† God does not need to come to us in burning bushes in order to speak to us.† God can and does speak to us in many different ways.†
††††††††† If you want to have a burning bush experience, you need not look any further than yourselves, for inside you burns something much hotter and brighter than a burning bush, it is the burning fire of the Holy Spirit.† The living presence of God, the living presence of the renewing and transforming power of God, who calls us and sustains us in our calling through the gifts of the Spirit.† And isn't that what we have been talking about from the beginning, our calling.† It's not the burning bush we desire most in our life, it is our calling, our vocation rather than our occupation, that which gives our life hope and peace, joy and fulfillment, meaning and purpose, that which meets the world's greatest need.
William Barclay writes, "the experience of the Holy Spirit turns existence into life."† We don't just want to exist, we want to live and know that we are alive with the Holy Spirit.† We want to know that God has a purpose for us, that God is using us for something much greater than ourselves and for something much greater than what we would have ever done on our own.
††††††††† Do you know what it is that God is calling you to do?† Do you know who it is that God is calling you to be?† God is speaking, are you listening?† If you don't know your calling, then it is not too late to start listening for it, it is not too late to turn your attention to the side and look at what is going on around you, to ask yourself, ďWhere is God at work around me?Ē† ďWhere is Godís power being revealed to me?Ē† ďWhere is the greatest need in the world?Ē†
††††††††† God is speaking, are you listening?† If you donít know your calling, go to a place that is Holy ground for you, a place where God is present, a place that evokes or awakens Godís presence in you.† The church, a park, a mountain overlook, a certain fishing spot on the Maury river, under the starry night sky, whatever it is for you go there, for wherever God is-there is Holy ground.
††††††††† God is speaking, are you listening?† If you donít know your calling, open your hearts and minds to hear Godís voice speak to you, be ready for the new possibilities God has revealed to you, and answer Godís call.† God will give you what you need to do His work, just like He promised Moses.† Our call may not be as big as Mosesí call, but it is just as important.† And in our own way and in our own calling, we too will work with God in delivering Godís people.† Amen.†