I Want My Manna Now

June 3, 2019

Anybody have a recipe for manna? It sounds pretty handy. Nutritious and sweet, God formed it on the ground each morning to feed the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness for forty years. I’d love to figure it out so when my kids report that there’s “nothing to eat around here,” I could cooly nod towards the grass.

God’s daily provision of food to this vast people group was miraculous, but it came with a stipulation: they could only gather enough for the current day. God’s instructions were clear, and the rebels who thought they’d pull one over on God and stuff their pockets for tomorrow learned an unpleasant lesson. The next morning they found their extra manna crawling with worms and other nasty surprises. No thanks. I’ll take mine sans the creepy-crawlies and with a few fresh blueberries, please.

Had I lived in those times, I’m sure I would have been uncomfortable with God’s instructions.

True, God listened to my whining and provided undeserved magical food, but that’s not quite enough. I’d prefer to see a good month’s worth stored in my cupboards, or at least a week’s. After all, there may be less available tomorrow, or God might decide to stop production altogether. Then where would I be? Are a few extra bowlfuls really too much to ask?

Yes. If my confidence rests more in my extra store of heavenly crackers rather than in the generous heart of our mighty God, then it is too much to ask.

Anxiety stares at the empty bowls. It glances at today’s manna and takes a few nibbles, but its eyes linger on what isn’t there: tomorrow’s provision. It meditates not on the taste and texture of today’s portion, but on the hunger we fear will come tomorrow. Even though God has provided all I needed each day in the past, he probably won’t again.

It’s painful to realize the statement my unbelief makes about God, especially knowing that what he wants most is the trust of his people, and what I often want most is the extra bowl of manna.

Sometimes God gives us additional stores and our cabinets are jammed, and sometimes he gives only enough for today. In both cases, he gives what we need. The future we imagine that’s full of misery and emptiness simply doesn’t exist–because God will be right there making crackers grow on grass or giving us sustaining grace or doing some other amazing feat to be our great Provider.

The manna narrative in Exodus is an object lesson to the Israelites and to us. It’s a simple truth that God has to show us and show us and show us again.  “Honey,” he says to me and to you, “Eat your food today. Chew. Taste. Swallow. Be filled. I’ll be back again tomorrow for breakfast.”

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