John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Testing Your Attention Span

Question: How long would it take a whole bush to burn up and be consumed? I suppose it kind of depends on how big the bush is, right? But even if it was a small bush, it would still take some time. Maybe five or ten minutes. I'm totally guessing at this -- having never burned a bush and timed it. It would have to take at least ten minutes.

Here's why I ask: How long was Moses standing there staring at the bush -- just watching it -- before he realized, "That thing isn't burning up"? Have you ever thought about that?

Did he see it every day for a couple of weeks? There's that bush again -- it's still burning! Or did he just stand there for an hour one day? Any minute now, that bush is going to burn up.

We think the burning bush was a miracle. Maybe the miracle was that Moses actually stopped his normal routine long enough to notice that something unusual was going on. One Jewish Rabbi named Lawrence Kushner says this:

"The 'burning bush' was not a miracle. It was a test. God wanted to find out if Moses could pay attention to something for more than a few minutes. When Moses did, God spoke. The trick is to pay attention to what is going on around you long enough to behold the miracle without falling asleep. There is another world, right here within this one, whenever we pay attention." How many burning bushes do I walk past everyday? Perhaps God is waiting for someone who has a long enough attention span to stop and notice and say, "I'll turn aside and see this strange thing."