Day 35

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” – Exodus 3:5

There is a Marvel animated series that was released in the last few years called What If…? that imagines scenarios that might have happened had certain famous Marvel events taken place in a different way. For instance, what if Peggy Carter became Captain America. It’s a fun and entertaining premise that in no way relates to biblical study…except for the purposes of introducing this essay.

The passage above is part of the famous scene in which Moses encounters the burning bush. Upon seeing this burning bush the Bible says, “So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.’” (Exodus 3:3) When he walks over to get a closer look, God speaks to him and gives him his mission: he will lead his people out of Egypt.

So God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, but not before Moses was inquisitive and curious, and walked over to the bush to see what it was all about. In the spirit of the Marvel Universe, “What if” Moses hadn’t stopped to check out the burning bush? “What if” he hadn’t been curious? Would God have persisted? “Yo, Moses, wait up! You really need to come over here!” How many things would God have had to set ablaze to get his attention? A second bush? A tree? A whole forest?

Thankfully, we’ll never know. Thankfully Moses WAS curious, and I can’t help but think that Moses’ curiosity played a really important role in all of this. Otherwise, why would the Bible mention it?

This relates to us in a lot of ways, not the least of which is how we treat our own curiosity. In therapy I’m taught to be curious about myself and my emotions. I’m taught to put aside my judgment and not to be dismissive or afraid of how I feel. I’m asked to question, over and over again, why I feel a certain way, where in my body I feel it, and what it means within the greater context of my life. Being curious is its own kind of vulnerability. It admits that we don’t have all the answers, that we might not know ourselves as well as we could. It recognizes that getting to know ourselves, and other people, takes time and work and attention to something outside of our workaday lives.

But then we see what Moses got for being curious, and we can be heartened by it. He received from God a new purpose to lead his people out of captivity, new hope for his people, and a relationship with his creator that uplifted him, filled him, sustained him, gave him confidence in the life that he was living and confidence in his own self worth. We can have these things too if we are curious about ourselves and the world around us.

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