One of the most annoying days as a Christian is the day you realize that you are totally like the Israelites.
You spend your Sunday school years sitting back, eating popcorn, watching the story of the Exodus play out on the flannelgraph board, thinking, “Haha, suckas, get your act together! What losers.”
And then, one terrible and wonderful day your eyes are opened and you realize that you are, in fact, one of those “losers.”
I’ve been thinking about manna lately. The story is found in Exodus 16 and goes like this: the Israelites are in the desert and are complaining (again), so God, in all His goodness says, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.” (vs. 4) Rain down bread from heaven? Sign me up for some of that!
God gives the Israelites very detailed instructions: gather what you need for each day. Don’t keep any for the next day. And each person had exactly what they needed! Perfect system! It’s not hard.
“However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.” (vs. 20)
I picture Moses here using the tone my older sister uses when her young boys have disobeyed one too many times.
“Come on guys, what did I JUST SAY?”
This is the part where I used to laugh and say, haha, look at the dumb Israelites, being dumb again.
But, recently I have realized that if I lived during this time and was wandering around in the desert with the Israelites, I totally would have been a manna hoarder.
I’m not kidding. I would have had to have an extra tent or two just to store my extra manna. If TV was around back then I’m certain I would have been featured on “Hoarders, Exodus Edition.”
And then it would have gotten all maggoty and gross but, ugh, I hate cleaning the dirty stuff out of my fridge so I probably would have just pushed it aside and added some more extra manna, only to find it spoiled the next day too.
The Israelites had to trust that God would provide for them each day. And sometimes I am not so great with this.
Right now I am in a season of utter dependence on the Lord. In fact, I’m having to trust Him and depend on Him more during this season than I ever have, even when I was on the World Race. When I was on that eleven month mission trip, I could always count on change. If I was having a rough week or month I could hold on to the hope that I would soon be through that bit of desert, and on to a new month, a new country, a new ministry. But lately when I’m having a bad day or week or month, change is not assured. If I look ahead all I can see is an endless ocean of days full of the same struggles.
I’m in waiting period. I’m in the desert. And day after day the Lord continues to give me my daily bread. He continues to provide. He faithfully gives me exactly what I need to get through each day. But frequently, it’s enough to get through ONLY that day. There have been times where I have gone to bed at night, not at all certain how I am going to make it through tomorrow.
And yet I wake up again each morning, drenched in new mercies, and am provided with exactly what I need. It always comes at just the right time, and it’s always so beautiful to see Jesus provide in such tangible ways.
But I so desperately want to hoard some of that manna. And I want it to keep for more than just a day. I want a bit of security, a bit of breathing room.
In those moments, I use my whiniest voice and cry out to God and ask Him why He can’t just let me have some backup manna.
And just now, while I’ve been writing this, I realized something. I often think God is testing me, or whatever, or growing my trust. And He certainly is growing my trust, or at least showing me how much room I have to grow in this area.
But what if it’s more of a blessing than I realize? You know, like how bread is freshest right out of the oven? Or how cookies are best when they’re still a little warm and the chocolate chips are all melted and gooey? I mean, God could provide me with boxes and boxes of manna, or cookies, or whatever you want to call this bread from heaven. He could let me store up this processed food, and have enough to last through a nuclear war.
But if I’m given the choice between a baguette baked fresh at the corner bakery this morning, or a bag of processed bread that will last a week, I will always choose the baguette. Warm and chewy, it tastes so much better.
What if my daily manna ration isn’t a test of faith, but rather a blessing?
I want to hoard my manna. Store it up for days. But God loves me enough to give me fresh bread each day. Because it tastes so much better.