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by Henry Brinton, August 6 2020

Bible Study 12: Waiting

Exodus 3:1-3

Surprising Sights and Sounds

When has God come to you in an unexpected way? 

Have you heard of “synesthesia”? It’s an experience in which one type of stimulation creates the sensation of another, such as when the hearing of a sound results in the seeing of a color. For example, when a woman with synesthesia hears a truck backing up, making a “beep-beep” sound, she sees the beeps as a series of red dots. When a man with synesthesia looks at a string of numbers, he experiences the “5s” as being a different color than the “2s.” 

Such blending of different senses is unusual, but it is not an illness or a disorder. The majority of people with synesthesia are glad to have the ability, since it improves memory and may even enhance creativity. Synesthesia is very common among artists, novelists and poets. Perhaps you have experienced it yourself.

Moses may have had a moment of synesthesia at the burning bush, when “the LORD’s messenger appeared to him in a flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was in flames, but it didn’t burn up” (Exodus 3:2). Then “God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’” (verse 4). A bush in the desert became a place where Moses saw God’s messenger in a flame of fire, and where Moses heard the voice of God. Sight and sound combined in a surprising way to give Moses an experience of God’s presence and power.

God is constantly trying to reach out to us, but we don’t always see and hear what God is doing. Thankfully, Moses had his eyes and ears completely open, and was able to perceive God in a unique blend of sights and sounds at the burning bush. Although God came in an unexpected way, Moses got the clear message that he was “standing on holy ground” (verse 5).

Not everyone has synesthesia, but all of us can open our eyes, ears, hearts and minds to what God is saying and doing in human life. God will come to us when we least expect it, just as God came to Moses in the “amazing sight” of the burning bush (verse 3), revealing himself to be the God who was, and is, and is to come.

Perhaps God will speak to you in the swelling music of a hymn or a praise song. Or reveal himself in a shaft of light through a window, or in the toothless smile of a baby. You may feel God’s love when a friend takes your hand across a kitchen table, or when a relative calls to see how you are doing. You may hear God’s voice in a word from the pulpit, in a line of Scripture, or in a news report. Sights and sounds come together in surprising ways to give you a message from God.

The burning bush expands our perceptions of how God can be revealed to us, and it assures us that we, like Moses, can stand on holy ground. Keep your senses open to what God is doing in your life, sometimes in amazing ways. 

God of the unexpected, keep my eyes and ears open to what you want to say to me. Amen.

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by Henry Brinton

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