When God Beats Around the Bush

Why does God beat around the bush?

Okay, maybe the question is better posed like this: Why is it that God sometimes seems to beat around the bush in answering my prayers? I wasn’t the one bold enough to ask the question aloud, but I can’t deny that I’ve wondered it. A lot.

Yes, this question really was asked in our small group discussion recently, and the conversation that followed was interesting. It usually is in our group.

The whole conversation was centered around the fact that Jesus often spoke and taught in parables, and how a lot of people in Jesus’ day didn’t understand what He was talking about. “Why was that?” a fellow-learner asked. “Why did He seem to be making it so hard to understand? And why does it seem like God is beating around the bush sometimes instead of just coming right out and giving me a straight answer when I pray about something?”

Maybe it’s God’s way of encouraging us to press in to Him. To teach us to dig deeper for His truths and to grow our faith and our trust. Those were points we went on to discuss. And then I remembered something I had read not too long ago. Don’t we appreciate something more when we’ve had to work a little harder to get it? It was a lesson in how we can mishandle blessings if they come too easily.

The conversation floated around in my head for the next day or two, especially the question about why God beats around the bush. Beating around the bush. Where did the phrase come from, anyway?

This idiom came about through bird hunting when participants used to beat bushes to stir the birds from them while others caught them in their nets.

Okay, I had an idea that was where it came from. But, I didn’t really think about the second half of the explanation.

So, “beating around the bush” was the start of the actual capture, but not the end result.

The start of the actual capture. Those times when it seems like God isn’t doing anything but beating around the bush, when it seems to be a senseless waste of time, when He seems to be avoiding anything worthwhile – those times are not irrelevant. Those times are “the start of the actual capture”. When it seems most like God is making it difficult to understand what He’s saying, that’s when He’s really getting down to business, making noise, and shaking things up so something big can happen.

It’s the start of the capture.

God is hard at it, beginning the process of capturing our attention. Capturing our interest. Capturing our curiosity. Capturing our hearts and turning them toward His.

Maybe the next time I find myself becoming frustrated with God for “beating around the bush”, I’d better be aware of what’s about to come flying out of there.

His disciples asked Him what this parable meant. He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:

When they look, they won’t really see. When they hear, they won’t understand.

This is the meaning of the parable… Luke 8:9-11a (NLT)


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