Wow, what a season it has been. 2018 changed my life in every single way. It is right when you tell yourself that Jesus could not possibly be able to do more, that He shows up and changes everything about your perspective, shows you a new side of His face, and wrecks your world in the best way. I reached that moment probably 100 times over the course of this year. I found myself in places that only God could have brought me, and I would limit His power by telling myself that I had already experienced every kind of miracle He could perform in my life. It was then that He would shake my world and change me forever. And without exaggeration, He has done this every day, constantly proving to me that He is never done and that I am completely and utterly clueless as to His power. I am walking into 2019 fully knowing that He is NEVER done, He is always around the corner waiting to change everything, and that nothing I could say or do could ever limit what He is capable of in my life on even the most mundane and boring days. What a God we serve. This is the best kind of life, where you have no idea what is coming next, but you have the promise that He is there in it with you! I am so ready for this revelation to hit me over and over again this year as well. (PS: this has nothing to do with what I actually want to talk about, but seriously, walk into 2019 knowing His power is matchless. It will change your life).
Moving on, I attended Passion Conference 2019 the last few days and if you have never experienced 12,000 people all worshipping together at the same time, it is different than anything else you will ever experience. During one of the last worship sets, a lyric hit me harder than it usually would have. I love moments where you hear or read something that you have seen or heard a million times, but for some reason it strikes you differently and you see it in a new light. During one of the songs, I read the lyric on the screen that said “Let every burning heart be holy ground”. I have sang this song for months, and I have never felt the need to look up what “holy ground” means, but for some reason I came home from this conference and that was the only thing on my mind. Let me tell you, it is so much more in-depth and beautiful than I had thought.
The term “holy ground” is mentioned twice in the Bible. The first time was when Moses approached the burning bush in the Old Testament, and the second time was when Stephen referred to Moses and the account of the burning bush in the New Testament. The burning bush story is one of those stories that you hear in Sunday school and never study for yourself. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized that most times, those are the most impactful and crazy stories in the whole Bible. This story is actually so in-depth that I have to go through it piece by piece to catch everything that really happened.
In Exodus 3:2-5, it says, “…the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
The first important thing to realize here is that it was not the ground itself that was holy, it was the presence of God dwelling there that made it holy. Wherever the Lord is, that is Holy Ground, and if we are Christians, meaning that the presence of Jesus is in us, our hearts are holy ground. He dwells there (what a privilege)!!
A few things happened on this Holy Ground that led to the biggest miracles in the Bible.
The first thing that God tells Moses to do is to take his sandals off. Most scholars believe this is to represent one taking any type of sin away from the presence of God. It was to get rid of any part of yourself that was unclean before a spotless King. We will talk more about that later, but there is another meaning to this commandment that is so hard for me to apply to my own life. God told Moses to remove his shoes so that he could not go anywhere. The Hebrew meaning of “Holy Ground” (admat kodesh) means that this area was set aside for this specific encounter with Moses. God did not want Moses rushing off and taking care of his own agenda. God wanted Moses’ full attention. So many times I bring my agenda to God. We tell Him that we will spend time with Him for 20 minutes and then do everything else that I have planned. But what if He needs 30 minutes to speak to you? What if He needs more time than what we give Him? What if He is waiting to speak to us and we have such a task-oriented mind that we won’t give Him the time He needs to really continue in a personal relationship with Him. I find myself laughing at how ridiculous it is that we actually think the tasks we have to complete are more important than speaking to the Creator of the universe, the one who gives us the very air that we breathe. Why is that so easy to forget and shrug off? It is my personal goal to remember and take this seriously. Nothing is more important than this relationship. So, take your shoes off. Don’t go anywhere. Let Him have the encounter with you that He specifically set aside for you. That is what He requires on Holy Ground. A restful, willing, and patient spirit, ready to stay there in the presence of the Almighty for as long as He would allow us. This is just the beginning. When we take our shoes off and stand in His presence is when He changes everything (our desires, our perspective, & our very lives), as He did with Moses.
As Moses engaged in a conversation with God, (okay but seriously, how cool does that sound?) God told Moses to stick his hand in his cloak and as his hand was pulled out, it was covered in leprosy (a very contagious and unpleasant skin disease that resulted in entire communities shunning anyone who had it). When you stand on Holy Ground, when you allow the presence of Jesus into your heart and life, any hidden sin is brought to the light. A Holy God cannot allow you to do anything for Him if you are living in contagious, worldly, unclean sin. This is where it gets a little tough. This is the moment we wish we had our shoes back on so that we could run and keep parts of our lives hidden that He wants exposed. Moses kept his shoes off, so we have to keep ours off as well. We have to stay put. This is where He refines us, purifies us, and readies us for whatever He is sending us out to do. The biggest revelation you will ever have is when you realize that you CANNOT skip over this step if you want to live out the purpose He has for your life. This is the moment He shapes you more and more into the image of Jesus… and this “moment” is every day. There will always be something to expose, always something to refine. But keep your shoes off!! He has a divine appointment with you, and as long as He keeps purifying you, the more beautiful His plan is for you. Moses “chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). Fleeting means quick, passing, and ultimately not worth the pain it results in. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be in the presence of God and His people worshipping and finding hope in our pain than to be running and hiding because of the shame of sin, isolated and alone. When Moses took off his shoes, remained the presence of the Almighty, and let Him expose his sin, God did some of the most radical and beautiful things ever recorded in the Bible through his life. When we take our shoes off, remain the the presence of the Almighty, and let Him expose the parts of our lives we keep hidden, he prepares us for the most wild adventure with Him. He takes our willingness and turns it into miracles and hearts won over for the kingdom. This is what He did through the burning bush story.
This was when God told Moses to go to the Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. God sent him out on a suicide mission, yet promised to be with him. Fire represents God’s presence. A bush was before Moses, completely on fire but not being consumed. The burning bush represents God sustaining and protecting Moses, not letting him be consumed as he walked through impossible circumstances. Before God even gave Moses his task, Moses said the words “Here I am” (Exodus 3:4). In the original Hebrew, hineni, those words mean “I am already here, and I am willing to do whatever you wish, before you even ask”. This was the heart of Moses. He was still, exposed, and willing, and that is why God did what He did next.
One of the most famous parts of the Old Testament is Exodus 3:14. This is when God revealed Himself as the “I Am”. Because of Moses’ heart, God revealed Himself to Him in a way that had never been done. In fact, this very line of scripture is how Jesus in the New Testament revealed Himself as God. He called Himself the “I Am”. “I Am” in the original Hebrew means “He who lives”. During this time in history, all of the false gods that were worshipped were lifeless, unable to have a life-giving relationship with its people. God revealed Himself as the living and breathing author and creator of the universe! This one statement proved the reality of the one true God for the first time ever, and the only reason God allowed Moses to be the one to have this encounter was because he was WILLING and he knew that being on Holy Ground meant that he would have to endure the refining and purifying hardships so that he could go out and change the entire world with the love of God and the reality of a true relationship with the Creator.
Moses went on to perform miracle after miracle, freeing the Israelites from Egypt, parting the Red Sea, receiving the ten commandments, and leading Israel into the purposes that God had for them. God chose Moses because Moses knew that his heart was holy ground. He knew that being in the presence of God was better than being in the presence of anything else.
“Let every burning heart be holy ground” means that if we want God to reveal Himself to us in ways that will change our lives forever and if we want Him to send us out and perform miracles through our life, we have to let our heart be Holy Ground. We have to take our shoes off and let ourselves rest in His presence and grow in a daily relationship with Him. We have to let Him refine us (and becoming more and more like Jesus is a whole miracle in itself, so as painful and hard as it is, it is the most radical way God could ever love you). We have to say “Here I am, God” and mean it. It is then that He reveals Himself and sends you on the mission of a lifetime, where nothing will ever be the same, and your heart will change the lives of everyone around you.
The presence of Jesus is Holy Ground. Our hearts are Holy Ground. It is an intimidating call, a tremendous responsibility, but it changes everything in the best way. What more could we ask for than to walk hand in hand with our Creator and beat the Pharaoh, part the sea, and lead His own people into victory after victory after victory.
Allow Him to make you His Holy Ground. Nothing could amount to the worth of the experiences you will have with Him.