Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Manna

Everyday, almost, some new insight or perspective or place in Scripture hits me and seems to carry me through a part of the day with renewed life.  I think to myself, "Aha!  This is what I have been missing!  I need to write this down!"  I frantically try to fit it in with all the other nuggets I can recall from recent memory, as if I'm trying to put in that last piece of the engine to fix the Mothership and fly myself home.

But something happens when I try to plunge myself back into that truth, that reality, and that moment a day or so later.  It is stale.  It doesn't impact me as it once did.  It is no longer "radioactive."  Trying to put all the pieces together never yields a running engine that allows me to zip myself across the galaxy to a safer, more comfortable, more emotionally stable, more spiritually-fortified place.  It doesn't.  And I always wind up frustrated and spending way too much time thinking.  "Where is the answer," I think?  "When is that one thing going to come that just changes everything, changes my heart, lightens my gaze, changes my perspective, and reorients my emotions?"

The question comes to my mind, "Lord, what is going on? Why don't you send that one thing that will snap things into place? Where is the dramatic deliverance?"

But God has other plans.  Instead, what I get is something to get me through the day.  I get "manna" -a daily cake of bread.  I don't get a leap and a bound; I get a single footstep.  Isn't that good, though?  Most of the time it isn't, I confess.  I'm so caught up in finding the "big fix", in obtaining the massive deliverance that is going to fix so many problems in life, that I forget what it is all about.  See... I want my life.  I want it to be mine.  I want self-sufficiency.  I want to be given the tools and answers so that I can fix it right now.  I'm going to fix that Mothership and pilot that sucker back to the promised land of my own dreams.

But, again, God has other plans.  What I get, instead, is something which is objectively better (even though not what I like).  I get to learn what it is to depend on God.  I get to learn what it means for God to be God and me to be a created, dependent person.  I get to learn that God provided manna today and that I can bank on the fact that He will provide it again tomorrow.  I get to learn the hard lesson of slowing down and depending, daily, on God.  I can't see a foot in front of my eyes, and I must trust that He will give me what I need to reach the next step on the path.  I learn humble dependence and trust -something more precious than silver, though it is, again, not exactly what I would like at the moment.

I bet this is how the Israelites felt while in the desert for forty years.  Yet God rained down manna, and every morning there it was.  They did not go without one bit.  I bet countless questions bounced around in their heads, aside from the ones recorded for us in Scripture.  Some of them may have been things like:

-LORD, why not just get us out of here?  Why not just change your mind and bring us out of this place?
-LORD, why not just give us fertile crops and a big storehouse of food all up front, right now?  Why do the whole manna thing?

What I am learning is the lesson of the Israelites: daily, humble dependence and trust.  Stop looking so hard for the big answer that you miss the daily manna, stop demanding to see what's around the bend, stop demanding a self-survival kit from God so that you can finally create your own life and happiness the way you want.  Live expectantly on the small, sustaining, wonderful bits of manna that God faithfully sends every day.  Learn that He is trustworthy, that He is there on a daily basis.

Slowing down like this is painful.  But His hand is in it.

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