I recently read Exodus 3 about Moses and the burning bush. If you are unfamiliar with the story, God appeared to Moses in a burning bush. When the bush remained on fire but didn’t burn, Moses decided to investigate. That’s when God spoke to him and revealed his intentions to rescue Israel from Egypt.
In my mind, I see Moses minding his own business, going about his day, oblivious to whatever wasn’t right in front of him. (sound familiar?) Then, this bush bursts into flames and he says to himself, “Oh my! It’s on fire, but not burning! What a wonder!” He wanders over to the bush to get a closer look and bam! God speaks.
You see, Moses didn’t pay attention to the bush until it was on fire. Only then, when the bush had his full attention, did the Lord speak.
I believe God is always communicating with us. I’ve heard His voice in the deepest parts of my heart. I’ve found his message in words on a page. I’ve listened to his guidance from the mouths of friends sent to speak into my heart. God is always trying to talk to talk to us. We’re just not all that good at stopping to listen.
We don’t recognize the bush until its burning.
While driving to Dulles to catch our flight to Iceland, Liz and I were trading book recommendations. I had just finished Uninvited and was raving about it. She told me about The Lipstick Gospel by Stephanie May Wilson. She also told me about Stephanie’s podcast, Girls Night In. I listen to a lot of podcasts while I work, so the first day back in the office after Iceland, I found Stephanie’s podcast and tuned in.
I loved the first episode I listened to – How to Navigate Life Change & Transitions – so I listened to the next one (How to Know God’s Will For Your Life. When that was over, I scrolled through her episodes to pick another. I stopped on Episode 13, Overcoming Discouragement in the Pursuit of Your Dreams, with Kailey Dickerson.
I’m not sure when, how, or why I started following Kailey on Instagram, but she’s the kind of girl that I think, if we were in the same town, we would be fast friends. She loves coffee, red wine, and Jesus – my kind of people. She’s also married to country singer Russell Dickerson. You may have heard his recent No. 1, “Yours.” While I knew who Kailey was, I didn’t know much about her – and Russell’s – story.
In my best Chris Harrison voice (“Next on the most dramatic season of The Bachelor yet…), Kailey’s episode of Girls Night In changed my life – or at least gave me the courage, the push, the whatever you want to call it, to go to work on changing it.
You see, there are things I want to do. Big things. Scary things. Things that require me to be brave and lean in and trust that where God guides, God provides. Things that require exiting the comfort zone. Except comfort zones are just that – comfortable. And while I have a history of literally leaping out of them, I’ve snuggled in pretty deep lately, pink fuzzy blanket, cute puppy, favorite coffee mug, and all. You can’t make your dreams happen while you’re hibernating.
In the podcast, Kailey talked a bit about how every label in town had turned Russell down. They had prayed and believed in their path, basically did all the “things” right, but it just wasn’t happening. So, they decided to make it happen for themselves. Kailey is a talented photographer, so she took Russell’s album photos and even filmed his video for “Yours.”
“Everyone had said no,” she says on the podcast. “Every label in town had said no. Every everything. Nobody was going to play his song. And it was like ‘well, I guess we’re going to have to do this for ourselves.’ We were just praying for something, but never putting our hand to the plow. We were like ‘well, this is just going to fall from the sky’ and like no, we had to start working.”
It was that sentence:
“We were just praying for something, but never putting our hand to the plow”
that hit me in the heart. That was me. I was praying and praying and praying and believing and believing and believing, exercising all the faith in the world. And yet… I wasn’t working.
I needed to go to work.
Another quote from Kailey during the podcast:
“We learned what it meant to co-labor. We had just been waiting for Jesus to be like ‘here you go, here’s your gift.’ We were just waiting and waiting. And when we were like ‘oh no, we’re just going to put our hand to the plow. We’re going to do it.’”
Stephanie makes great point here. She likens Kailey and Russel putting their hand to the plow to a young boy putting his hand on a plow and trying to push. It may go a little ways, but then his dad comes along, puts his hands on the plow, and helps him push it further. When Russell and Kailey started pushing their own plow, God showed up and helped them push it farther.
How incredible is that?
I have listened to most of Stephanie’s podcast now, but continue to hit replay on Kailey’s episode. The same day I listened to it for the first time, I went home and put a few fingers on the plow. I think I have a whole hand on it now, and maybe even part of my other hand. It’s moving along, slowly but surely.
I’m working. I hope I’m co-laboring.
But the goodness in the podcast didn’t end with the revelation of putting the hand to the plow. Towards the end of their conversation, Kailey and Stephanie discuss being an example of love in relation to an Instagram post Kailey made about fighting in public. I think we can all agree that there is a lot of negativity in the world. A lot of hurt and anger, too. Kailey’s Instagram point was that as humans, we’re hesitant to hold hands or kiss in public, but we don’t mind bickering in the checkout line and that needs to change.
“The world needs to be shown how to love, not how to fight.”
That’s what Kailey wrote, and what she and Stephanie talked about. Kailey explained, “I feel like everyone is pointing fingers these days. No no. We need to love the world with our two hands and I guess show people how to do it.”
I’ve written on the topic of being kind and showing love. I see it in some of the youth at my gym, the young girls I work with at the Boys and Girls Club, even some of my students and clients. They just need love – someone to listen to them, encourage them, pour into them. It might be a tray of freshly baked cookies brought to a Youth Empowerment meeting or a hug after our mentoring group. Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking a student how she did on her accounting exam.
With all the darkness in the world, in the news, in our own backyards, there are still good things there. Good people. We can be those people. To quote Kailey one last time:
“There are lights there. See them. Be them.”
Back to that burning bush.
God didn’t exactly light a bush on fire to get my attention – goodness knows I’ve prayed for Him to be that obvious with his messages – but He did send me this podcast, through a best friend, to tell me “Sarah, start working. Just start.”
So, here we are.
Let’s put our hands to the plow.
Let’s be the light.
Listen to the Girls Night In podcast here.