Finding God in Unexpected Places

By Manuele Teofilo 

A bush in a desert land with a flame starting to burn

Many stories in the Bible are of people finding God in unexpected places. Just like we have many stories in our lives of unexpected blessings and God revealing Himself in ways we don’t expect. One story that stands out to me is Exodus 3:1-4 when the angel of God appeared in the burning bush.

Exodus 3:1-4

“One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai the mountain of God.  There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”  When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied.”

Moses was doing some work as a shepherd. He noticed something unusual and paid attention to it. He was curious that there was fire in the bush, but it didn’t burn the bush. And yes, that does not make any sense, if there is a fire, it will burn, whatever it consumes.  This unexplainable sight drew Moses to go over to take a closer look.

There are two unexpected things here. The fire not burning the bush up, and this is where Moses finds God’s presence.

Recently, I was blessed to go home to Samoa. It was for my uncle’s funeral. I was in a big shock and very sad about his passing. I didn’t plan to go to Samoa as it is quite expensive to fly over, but I had a strong yearning in my heart to go to Samoa and it didn’t go away.  I wanted to go over to be at the funeral to honour my uncle who I really admire. Being able to purchase my airfare was an unexpected blessing in itself.

Samoa is really inaccessible for wheelchairs. So, I was just looking forward to making it over there and being with family. Although I wouldn’t be able to go to many places. I enjoyed the warm weather and was glad I was part of my uncle’s funeral.

While I was there, I got to hang out with my 19-year-old cousin. and we had never connected before. To my surprise, she took me out for rides and had a great time chatting about our faith and what God is doing in our lives. Our friendship grew quickly over a few days and it continues today.

It was easy to ignore the yearning of my heart. It’s too expensive. It`ll be too hard for my family to care for me in Samoa. But God made a way. I’m so grateful for my family and everyone who made the trip possible. I got to see family members that I haven’t seen in years. And made a beautiful connection with my cousin.

Reflecting on the Exodus passage. Some points I picked up from Moses’ reaction. Firstly, He noticed. Think we need to be alert. God maybe speaking to us through something in our surroundings or things going on in our lives.

Second point. We need to be intrigued and curious, like Moses. Don’t be quick to dismiss things that don’t make sense. Ask questions. Go find out more. You may just find God.

And yes. Take a step towards the unknown. When Moses decided to go towards the burning bush. That’s when God called out to him. If we take a step-in faith, God will do amazing unexpected things!

God continues to show up in unexpected places, and in wonderful unexpected ways. We just need to be aware and notice when God is showing us something. Also, be ready to encounter God, because it may be in a way that you don’t understand. He maybe calling you to do something. As we read later in Exodus 3, Moses is called to go lead the Israelites out of slavery.

He may have a blessing for you, that you’ve never even thought of or expected. Or he might be calling you to rely on Him to, overcome challenges.

So, what could God be saying to you today?

Manuele Teofilo is Communications Coordinator at the Elevate National Support Office. He attends Gracecity Church in Auckland and lives with Cerebral Palsy.