Photo by Leonora (Ellie) Enking on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

You’ve got to love a plant which turns pink in the autumn. I’m referring to the Euonymus alatus shrub, whose leaves change from green to a vivid, hot pink this time of year.

One of its nicknames is “burning bush,” because in autumn the shrub looks like it’s on fire. It must have reminded people of the burning bush Moses encountered in Exodus 3, through which God spoke to him.

I think God uses many different ways to speak to us today, each a “burning bush” tailored to our unique personalities.

Probably the primary way that God communicates to us is through Scripture. We read or hear a verse that seems to speak directly into our situation. By reading the words of Jesus, we “hear” God’s heart. We may also receive a word from the Holy Spirit or sense God’s guidance through prayer.

There are many instances in the Bible of God giving someone a message through dreams or visions. He may relay information in a dramatic fashion via an audible voice, or the more subtle “still, small voice.”.

Other times God may use another person to convey something to you: a Christian speaker or author, or a family member or friend who’s a believer.
God may also speak to you through the lyrics of a song or hymn.

He might be sending a message to you through your circumstances, especially via some difficult situation. Or, you may encounter a coincidence that seems like a “sign,” and you think God may be trying to tell you something.

With me, I feel that God occasionally “speaks” to me through nature.

This past summer, I was fretting about something. I was feeling discouraged about a situation, and prayed that God would help me with it. As I was still praying, I walked outside to my garden to inspect the flowers.

Mid-prayer, a buzzing sound caught my attention. I stood still and tried to locate the source of the sound, assuming it was a bumble bee. I soon realized that the buzzing wasn’t from an insect at all, but rather from the rapid beating of a tiny bird’s wings.

Photo by Michael Janke on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The sound was coming from a male ruby-throated hummingbird, hovering near one of my flowers. He was suspended in the air just a few feet away from me. He looked me right in the eye for a few moments before flying away.

Now, you have to understand that seeing hummingbirds in my garden is a rare occurrence. I’ve only spotted them a couple times in the past two decades. Seeing that beautiful bird with the iridescent red patch on its throat and its near-miraculous hovering ability cheered me up. I felt that it was a little message of encouragement from God, that He was going to help me with the situation that was worrying me.

Later the same day, after running some errands, I realized that I was close to a favourite park of mine in the city. I stopped by for a few minutes, and wandered over to the park’s flower beds. What did I see there, but another ruby-throated hummingbird! To me it felt like a confirmation of the earlier message that God knew of my predicament and was going to come to my aid.

Now, you might say that it was just a coincidence that I saw two hummingbirds on the same day, a day on which I was feeling down and needed a lift. You might say it was simply happenstance, and wasn’t any sort of message from God. I guess I’d have trouble convincing you otherwise.

But not long after that day, the situation that I’d been fretting about was resolved positively. It felt like an answer to prayer. To me, seeing those hummingbirds on the very day I was praying about a discouraging situation was as though God was saying, “Hang in there, Lori. Help is on the way.”

I’ll always believe that God “spoke” to me that day, and arranged for me to see those hummingbirds just when I really needed a boost.

How does God speak to you? What’s your “burning bush”?

God speaks in different ways, and we don’t always recognize his voice.”

Job 33:14, contemporary english version

© 2019 Lori J. Cartmell

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