Burning Yet Not Consumed

My burning bush experience (Exodus 3) some time ago was when I left the air-conditioned comfort of studying in the university library to walk the streets of Geylang with a ministry to foreign sex workers. Like Moses, I was curious to see not from afar but close.  

In the humid darkness of back alleys, I witnessed in street ladies and ministry volunteers a fire that burned but did not consume. It is in the least of these we see Christ; in mercy to the afflicted we know God. I once offered to pray for a lady from Sri Lanka; she said she would like that and that she was a Christian. Who was I to purport to minister to her? 

One night, I asked God to show me what I was to do. In the fog of my mind, I felt prompted to turn to Psalm 2:8 — “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” 

On His Word, I was standing on holy ground. He hears the cry of the oppressed and othered. Although He is, to us, the greatest Other, He draws near to us to lead us from otherness to oneness. To liberate us from Pharaonic alienation. To oneness with one another in and with Him. 

Who was I to have a part in this? Yet, my self-centered ‘here I am’ distracts from the cosmic focus of Yahweh’s “I Am”, “I will be” and “I am who causes to be”; therefore, go, He says, for I will be with you. 

All that burns must be consumed. Only the One who is inextinguishable, self-sufficient, life giving may burn without end. Yet, this God chooses to commission the frail and deficient as His agents. 

When in doubt about the calling, there would be no tangible sign to look to in the present. For those called are to walk by faith and not by sight. It has meant for me not going blindly in circles, but venturing in conviction. Ventures mean calculated risks. In the final analysis, God underwrites every risk; He has already taken the greatest risk on us. 

The only road sign we may see is the final destination. Only when we arrive will we fully know the One who called us. So I fix my eyes on the ultimate, and work towards the penultimate. The ultimate is sure. The penultimate is the unwritten in the sand which ushers in the ultimate. So, in the quotidian, my job is simply to be an usher: ‘come this way’. 

This work is ultimately in the particular. The particular neighbour I must care for. The particular case I take up. The particular word I must speak. The particular page I must fill. The particular deed of service I must do. 

There is no guarantee of success or satisfaction. Quite the contrary. We can expect, as I have experienced, opposition, ingratitude, and almost despair at ‘never good enough’. 

So, this mission of uniting with God in reconciling all things – broken people, broken communities, broken creation – is never meant to be lonely. 

His story for us begins in community, works in community, and ends in community in communion with Him. 

I’m grateful for the fellow sojourners and workers He brings alongside. SCGM is and has been a crucial catalyst for the Singapore Church to rally like-minded, burdened and passionate missioners. Its keystone events have set the background for burning bush encounters for many. The conversations it has generated have been generative. 

We descend the mountaintop having seen the holy fire only to make the ascent with neighbours who will become fellow pilgrims: ‘come and see’. When this word of hope has reached every tribe, Jesus, the great I Am, will come and we will see face to face. And then we will arrive at the mountain to worship Him, and we shall know that it is truly who He says He is. Until then, we press on. The holy fire continues to burn but not consume. May we who are called host His unending flame. 


RONALD JJ WONG is a servant, husband, father, lawyer, advocate, writer, speaker, pioneer, movement coordinator, community builder, and culture caretaker.


40 FRiends of SCGM have been invited to take part in our 40-Day Devotional Project to help raise funds for SCGM’s 40th Anniversary. Each day starting 20 November 2020 to 31 December 2020, SCGM will publish one devotion written by our 40 FRiends in our FundRaising effort and celebration of God’s goodness and provision over the last 40 years!

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