Let me start by saying that it really is ok if you don’t believe this story. Though I promise you, with ever fibrous piece of my being, that it’s all true. But I don’t blame you at all if you’re skeptical. I mean, I could hardly believe what was happening. Who would have thought that something like that would happen to someone like me. You know what I mean? Oh, forgive me, I forget that I’m supposed to be telling the story, not talking to you like you already know it. My mother would take a branch to me if she knew how birds-nesty my manners are at the moment.
My name is Juni. People who know the story call me BB, but please, call me Juni. I get so excited about telling the story that I just want to jump straight to that dusky midsummer day. But, I really should start at the beginning.
I grew up on the backside of the Arabian desert. Actually, I don’t think there is a front side to the desert, it’s all the backside. Little bits of something and a whole lot of nothing. My mom had deep roots that went back generations and generations and it was expected that all of us offspring would put roots down in the same place, but that wouldn’t be the case for me.
One early morning, before the sun showed its blistering face over the eastern sandy hills, a scraggly vagabond shrouded in feathers snatched me effortlessly from my mother’s canopy. I was too frightened and stunned to even consider that it would be the last time I’d ever see my family.
The old crow had a death grip on me as we journeyed south. I had no idea where I was going; whether I’d end up as someone’s lunch or die a withering waterless death in the merciless desert. Whatever it was, I prayed that my end would be quick and painless. Hours into our flight, we were engulfed in a raging sand storm. Battered by the stinging shards of sand, the ugly old bird lost her grip and dropped me.
I landed hard and crashed and rolled down rough granite boulders. Tumbling and wheeling, I came to rest on the sandy bottom of a narrow wadi. I lay, unable to move, and stared up at the rocks that formed an outcropping around me and then rose to meet the base of snaggletooth looking mountain.
I didn’t want to die here. This was not how it was supposed to happen. Why me? I begged my Creator to get me out of here. But nothing happened. Even if I could have cried, my tears would have just been a waste of water. I was utterly alone and absolutely helpless.
And so, I died.
As I died, I could feel beneath me the cool dampness of a dry riverbed. I realized that either water from a rainstorm or a trickling mountain spring must run deep under the sand. As my outer shell cracked open and lived its last, my first root nudged down toward that precious source of life.
You see, I’m a tree. A juniper tree to be exact. As a little berry-like seedling, where you die is very important. Because where your outer casing cracks open and shrivels away is where you’re going to be, for like, forever. It’s paramount that if you plan on ever socializing or reproducing with a hunky mass of trunk that you’re actually in close proximity to other juniper trees. But thanks to a hungry desert raven, I was alone. Talk about a total bummer for any prospective dates.
It’s taken many years to become what I am today. Years of slowly putting roots down into the sandy bottom to gather the meager watershed. Day in and day out of arching my branches to the side to absorb the few hours of sunlight that glimpse across the small canyon. Years of work and you couldn’t even really call me a tree at all; I’m really just a scrubby bush. What a great lot in life, huh?
I wasn’t bitter at God. How on earth could I despise my Artist and the Author of my story? I was just so tired of asking why. I mean, if I was gonna get picked up and dropped off somewhere, it couldn’t have been in the middle of a thriving desert oasis or by the salty seacoast? Why couldn’t I bring shade and comfort to travelers and sojourners? Why was I so pathetically small and ineffective? I didn’t want to be the talk of the town, I just wanted to be useful.
I had a lot of time to think and it took me years to accept the idea that everything happens for a reason. But what happened on that any other kind of day would change my acceptance to belief in the perfect plan of God.
My tiny needle-like leaves had just finished basking in some delicious golden sunlight and I was content to droop down for the night when, suddenly, I heard a warbling echo in my little wadi. From around the upper bend of the canyon outcropping came a nappy fleeced sheep. Its stick like brown legs seemed barely able to hold the stringy creature up as it wobbled and tripped over rocks in the dry riverbed. The sheep’s turned-down ears flopped against its narrow face as it moved towards me.
Its lazy eyes blinked slowly at me and the smelly wool bag moved closer. As it approached, I tried to telepathically communicate to the dumb creature that if it even thought about popping a squat on me, I would take one of my bristly branches and stick it someplace very uncomfortable. Before its flapping nostrils got too close to sniff me, another sound bounced around the canyon. A heavily accented voice rang out and the rebellious fluff ball perked up and continued hobbling away down the wash.
From where the sheep had come, came a man about as scrappy looking as the sheep he was chasing. He wore a white tunic under a grey cloak that fell to his mid calf and was belted with a leather strap at the waist. Sweat marks, stained brown from the desert sand, ran down from his olive neck and scraggly black beard. Dark brown leather sandals protected his feet from the harsh desert sand and wound around his ankles.
It wasn’t the first time a sheep had wandered down to seek water in my sandy home. Better looking shepherds had more than once stumbled over my branches. He didn’t look like them though, he didn’t look like he belonged in this part of the desert. But what was I thinking, neither did I. The shepherd stopped short with a sigh. He leaned against the rocky canyon wall and wiped the sweat from his leathery brow with the dirty edge of his head covering.
A cold breeze began to waft through the canyon and snatched the cloth out of the shepherds hand. Wait, cold? My leaves shivered in this unusual draft. It wasn’t night yet and the gentle wind was far too cool. Down the opposite side of the canyon came a presence that I had never felt before. It wasn’t the wind, it wasn’t another man or animal, it wasn’t even explainable. My deepest roots shuddered. The base of my trunk grew warm as if the sun itself was gathering in my sap and began to prickle through my bark. I looked down to see the lines between my bark grow bright and shimmer like a hundred stars.
Suddenly, every branch, every needle like leaf exploded with the most brilliant tendrils of fire. I was aghast and amazed at this unexplainable eruption. It took a few seconds for me to realize what was happening. I was on fire! I just sat there. Obviously, unable to move and stunned that after all I had been through, I was now going to burn to death on the backside of this wretched desert.
I had completely forgotten about the mangy shepherd who had now backed himself flat against the stone wall of the canyon. His brown eyes stared dilated at this sudden burst of fire. It was the bewildered look on his face that first made me realize something. I wasn’t even hot. The warmth I had felt at the beginning was just that, a warmth. I looked at my twisted and scrappy branches and gawked as the fire whirled and twisted around each one, yet didn’t so much as singe a single leaf.
From deep inside the earth to the farthest reaches of the galaxy came the sweetest sensation, the deepest heat, the purest breath, the strongest voice that gently whispered, “Moses…Moses.” It came from every rocky crevice and grain of sand and yet it came out of nowhere. I could only assume that the shepherd’s name was Moses because, his paled face looked about frantically and then back to my engulfed self. He swallowed hard and croaked, “He…here I am.”
It’s so hard to explain what happened next. The presence of God had literally consumed me. The Lord of the elements had wrapped my bush-like tree in rays of yellow, orange and blue fire. My roots could feel every pebble and flake of sand tremble in worship and awe of the majesty of God.
The Lord of heaven spoke with might and gentleness, power and love to the quivering, now shoeless man in front of me. Words of deliverance and rescue to His people in bondage. Words of encouragement and chastising to this weary runaway son. The Lord God performed signs and wonders before Moses and gave him detailed instructions of what He would do in this far off land called Egypt. The great I AM was going to move heaven and earth to save His people. And He used me to give the message.
So that’s why people who know the story call me BB, the Burning Bush. It’s been years since that day, but people still talk about it, still tell the story. The flame has long since disappeared from my branches but, the fire still tingles through my roots. The presence of the living God that consumed me then, still consumes me now.
God brought a little seedling like me through the dry desert, through lonely nights, and agonizing days of scorching sun for a very specific reason. He never let me dry up or die of hunger. The Great Provider ensured that I was protected and taken care of so that my future could be fulfilled. I had a purpose and destiny that was far beyond my little juniper brain.
But enough about me. Mother would be thoroughly displeased that I’ve been doing all the talking. So tell me, what’s your story?
This is absolutely fabulous and I’m so glad I stumbled upon it on Blonde Strands’s blog
Bible study should establish the Bible as a source of life, not a content to be mastered.
Psalm 143 (ESV)
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah
7 Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
9 Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
I have fled to you for refuge!t
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!
11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant.
Needed this today. Need direction today.