Every once in a while, as I read the Bible from my 2014 perspective, a weird thought enters my head – a thought I just can’t get out. Not long ago I had one of those days.
“What time will the snow start? How many inches? Will it be fluffy or heavy? Is there going to be freezing rain mixed with the snow? I wonder if they’ll cancel school?”
The next day, I found myself obsessively watching the snowfall predictions on Weather.com to see exactly how many inches we were going to get, because after all……well, it just matters!
And then it happened….my Weird Bible Wondering.
When they were in the wilderness, did the Israelites spend as much time talking about the next day’s manna as we do the next day’s snowstorms?
You see, back in the book of Exodus when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, food was tough to find. So they griped and complained about their situation to God. The very same God who’d just pulled off a string of great big miracles to liberate them from Egypt. So – in retrospect – it was pretty gutsy of them to complain. But God (in a waaaaayyyy more gracious response than I could ever muster up), told them He’d provide manna. Every day there’d be just enough manna for each of them to collect and eat. Except the day before the Sabbath, when there’d be two-days’ worth, so they could rest and observe the Sabbath. Yes, the God who’d already performed amazing miracles clearly spelled out how He would provide for them day by day. They didn’t have to worry, they just needed to trust.
So how do you think the Israelites responded? I can just hear them now…..
“How much manna will be on the ground when we wake up? Will it be fluffy manna or heavy manna? Do you think it will be windy? If so, the manna may blow away. Or sand may get mixed in and make it all gritty – yuk! What if it rains – will it turn into manna-mush? What if we’re still hungry – do we REALLY have to wait until tomorrow for more manna? Watch out for yellow manna!” “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom
It may sound ridiculous, but I’ll bet there were at least a few of those conversations. Because human nature is, after all, remarkably consistent. We love playing the game of “what-if” rather than relaxing in the knowledge that God has promised to provide. Yes, sometimes just trusting God doesn’t seem as satisfying – it doesn’t satisfy our love of speculating about the future, it doesn’t make for good conversation around the coffee bar or wherever you happen to hang out.
So yes, I bet they DID talk about this, even though God told them His plan – very clearly.
And we know they didn’t listen – or if they did, they didn’t trust what He said. We know, because they hoarded the manna. Thinking ahead to the uncertainty of the next day, they collected more the one day’s manna.
You see, the Israelites were focused on what they thought were their needs. Truth be told, we all are. The Israelites were hungry, so they thought they needed food. But God knew what they really needed – they needed to trust Him. So God made the leftover manna rot – because God was determined they would learn to trust His provision one day at a time. Just like He’s determined with us.
Thousands of years later, I’m like the Israelites and their manna. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’m contemplating some adjustments in my life – clearing out some major time commitments to make room to serve God more. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure what that will look like. Not even close. And my mind keeps spinning on what might happen – like a person about to get snowed on, or like the Israelites with their manna.
“What will I do with my time? What if God doesn’t make it incredibly obvious what I’m supposed to do? What if He makes me wait 40 years like Moses before He’s ready to use me? I could be dead by then!”
And so I’m learning that “what if” isn’t just a fun game I play as I try to guess my future. It’s destructive. It does nothing to help my stress level. It does nothing to help my faith grow. In fact, it may just be listening to Satan whispering in my ear…..that God can’t be trusted.
But what if….instead of spending my energy playing “what if,” I focused on seeing how God is meeting my needs today – right here? right now? Would I be surprised to find my average existence is actually quite amazing? God’s full, personal attention and intervention, meeting my needs, showing me opportunities to serve Him? Would I be able to trust Him more? Would I find, if I focused on trusting God, that my “needs” pale in comparison to God my provider?
But that would mean I need to stop looking at my fears, my “needs,” and look instead at Jesus. All. the. time. Consciously choosing to look at Jesus, when Satan wants me to look at my uncertainties, my fear that my needs won’t be met. But Jesus knows my needs – and Jesus wants me to learn to trust Him.
In the end, a life spent trusting Jesus everny day is way more exciting than a life spent worrying. Just ask Peter….who ended up walking on water. Just ask Moses…who saw that Red Sea parted. Just ask Paul who – imprisoned with his life in danger – kept his eyes on God and saw countless souls come to faith through his words. Just ask Corrie Ten Boom, Billy Graham, or Hudson Taylor. Or perhaps some Christ followers you know. No, a life spent trusting Jesus is not boring – when you look and see Him working, it’s exciting!
And in the midst of all that, I’m still obsessing about how much snow we’re going to get this winter – even though it really doesn’t matter a whole lot. In the end, we will get snow, and when we do I’ll stay home from work because the roads will be treacherous. We may lose power or (gasp!) our internet connection. Our cell phone batteries may run down. We may get colder than we would like. The pipes may burst. But I will survive. On the off chance I don’t….I’ll be rejoicing with Jesus.
And the God who worked miracles for the Israelites – who was obsessed with teaching them to trust Him….He WILL bring me through my own times of uncertainty. And if I pay attention, I’ll be amazed at His provision.
What about you? Do you spend your day playing mental gymnastics about what might or might not happen in the future? Has God ever surprised or amazed you at how He’s met you needs? We’d love to hear your story in the comments!