BY JORDAN MAYER
"Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not."
I don't know about you, but when I read the Old Testament, I tend to be quick to judge the Israelites. I question their faith, eye roll their grumbling, and pity their failings. But I realize that I stand from a privileged vantage point. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. I have the benefit of both reading the account of Israel's history as well as God's purposes and workings in and through it. Everything seems so obvious when we can see the big picture, but it's much harder to actually live it and walk through it. It requires faith. And then I have my next realization: "Well shoot, I'm more like the Israelites than I thought."
Over the last two years, God has been teaching me a lot about faith and trust, particularly when it comes to my job and career. I enjoy the comfort and security of knowing what's up ahead and what I need to do to get there. I like plans, organization, and structure. The last two years have been the complete opposite of that. I have battled so much frustration and anxiety over not having a clear plan or path ahead, feeling uncomfortable and ill-equipped for my role, and struggling to know whether I was doing a good job or not. And then there's COVID, but we won't go there.
I realize now that what I was really fighting over was control. Boy, do I like to feel in control. The key word there is feel because it is actually quite laughable what we think we have control over.
I recently read through this passage of Scripture where God provides this strange wonder bread called manna. Scripture emphasizes the fact that God instructed the people to gather a day's portion. No sooner had the command been issued than the people disobeyed. Being the more practical, logical, and industrious individuals among them, some Israelites gathered more than they needed and decided to keep a little extra, just to be safe. Of all the times I am prone to judge the Israelites, this isn't one of them. In fact, I am sure I probably would have been one of the individuals who put together a healthy surplus for themselves.
Based on verse 4, we understand that God was not merely providing for the people, He was testing them. Would the people obey God's Word and only take what they needed for the day or would they try to control God's provision? Although there are many examples in the Bible about wise living, careful planning, and hard work; these qualities are all tempered in faith and trust in God. In James, we are encouraged to make plans and think ahead, but to submit them to God and His will (James 4:13-17). When Jesus is teaching the disciples how to pray, He instructs them, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). Why not our weekly bread, or our monthly bread, or even our yearly bread?
The supply is not the issue. God gives in abundance and out of an overflow of His goodness. But God's desire is not that we come to Him once in awhile, but daily. In Psalm 71:3, the writer says, "Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come...". But there is a tradeoff. Coming before God means giving up control. It means surrendering our fears, our worries, and our anxieties by entrusting ourselves to Him. The Israelites were called to collect what they needed for the day so that they could wake up the next to see God's wonderful provision yet again. And God calls us to do the same. Surrender your day to Him, trust Him with it, and fill up on His grace. Then return again tomorrow for a fresh supply.