Poem – Our daily bread

“Give us our daily bread”
isn’t really about food.
It refers to manna.
Heavenly bread, spiritual sustenance.
Just enough for today,
only one day at a time (Like AA).
It says
“Help me appreciate right now
– no worry about the future.
Help me trust that
You
have that under control.”

When we worry about our future
we are forgetting
the sovereignty
of God.
We are saying that
we
are in charge. We are making idols
of ourselves

God gave us the test
of the manna,
to see if we would gather
just enough
for this day,
to see if we would
walk in his ways
and trust him.

Eternal God, honor us
by giving us this day
our daily bread,
and may we
honor You
by gathering only enough
for today.

Amen.

Manna. One day at a time with God.

I used to be really worried about money. It seemed as soon as I got a bonus or had an unexpected windfall of money, a huge expense would come up. I was never able to add to our savings. Sure, I’ve got some money there, but not enough to feel safe about. I don’t want to live hand-to-mouth. My parents did that and it wasn’t pretty. In a way it is a mercy that they died young because they certainly didn’t have any money set aside for when they got older.

Then I heard about manna as a test. Remember manna? It was what the Jews ate in the desert for forty years. They walked in the hot sun, with no homes, with no real possessions. They had no idea where they were going other than where God was leading them. Every day was difficult – but every day they had food in the form of manna.

It wasn’t that great, but it got them through. Every now and then some of them would complain and ask for something else, but it always made them sick. Manna was exactly what they needed. It was boring, sure, but it kept them strong enough to get through that ordeal and make it to their new home.

God knew what they needed and provided it. What they wanted wasn’t good for them. Isn’t this always the way? We think we know better than God, and when we get what we ask for, it just gets in our way.

Here’s the really interesting thing about manna. It was one day at a time. Every day of the week, except Saturday, they would get manna. It was just enough for that day and no more. Every day they had to trust that food would come to them. They couldn’t save up.

Saturday was different. Being the Sabbath, it was a day of rest. The only exception to the pattern was on Fridays, where they would get a double portion of manna so they didn’t have to work to gather it up on the Sabbath.

God gave manna not just to feed them, but as a test. It was to see if they trusted that God would provide for them. It was a test to see if they would submit to God’s commandments and be God’s people.

The same thing can be said about money. God knows what we need.

Here are the Bible verses in question (all are NIV) —–

Exodus 16:1-5

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

Deut. 8:1-5

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

Deut. 8:16

16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Day off?

I was listing to a Jewish podcast where the speaker referred to Shabbat as a day off. He said that God says “Hey I love you so much, why don’t you take the day off?”And then take the same day off next week off too.”

The person who was speaking was male. I’m starting to understand why in Orthodox Judaism one of the morning prayers is giving thanks to God that you were not born female.

Shabbat is not a day off if you are female.

Shabbat is making up for all the extra work you had to do the week before. On Shabbat you’re not allowed to cook. This means you have to cook twice as much the day before. You can prepare for this throughout the week but ultimately it means you have to do twice as much work in order to “take the day off”. The house has to be clean and everything prepared by sunset on Friday night. No work is allowed until sunset on Saturday night. It is like preparing for a major holiday every week.

It is similar to when the Jews were wandering in the desert. They were expected to gather twice as much manna on Friday because there would not be any provided on Saturday. Gathering twice as much or working twice as hard is the same thing. So it’s not really a “day off” so much as a day of recovery from all the extra work you had to do to prepare for your “day off”.

Poem – manna

I’m surrounded by manna
and I’ve eaten my fill.

I want to grab it all,
the 12 bushels overflowing,
the scraps, the crumbs.

I want to gobble it all up
and get sick on God.

I forget there will be another day,
another blessing,
another brokenness.

I forget the lilies and the swallows.

I forget the quail in the desert too.
I forget those who gathered 2 day’s worth.

All I see is now
and I want it all.

My hands are full and I want more.

On manna and writing

I have more “seeds” for posts than I have time to write. I carry a notebook with me all the time. I have a list of ideas in my phone as well. Any time I get an idea that I think is worthy of expanding on later I’ll put in one of those places.

Sometimes I get to write from these idea-seeds.

It seems that I never run out of things to write about. While I have those storehouses, I don’t often need them because when I find time to write I always have another topic to write on. Sometimes two or three.

It is like I am storing them up in case I hit a dry spell.

And then I’m reminded of the story of manna in the desert. God provided food for the Israelites in the form of manna. Yet he provided only enough for one day, except right before the Sabbath, where he would provide enough for two days. Every day they were to gather up just enough for that day. Every day after the gathering time the rest would disappear. They had to trust that God would provide for them the next day, and the next day, and the next day.

If they gathered up more than they could use for the day, they got sick.

So by saving up all these ideas, am I hoarding? Am I not trusting in God’s providence? Or am I being a good steward of what I am given, by keeping it for later?

Anne Lamott says to keep a notebook at all times, and write down any and all ideas. She jokes that if you don’t, she will, and she’ll get the idea and make money off of it. She also says that by keeping a notebook you are letting the Universe know that you are open to ideas and are a good place to send them too. I certainly can attest to the truth of that. The more I keep a notebook, the more writing ideas come to me.

I don’t always use them, but when I do, I’m grateful. Sometimes, just keeping a notebook helps me stay focused. Sometimes an idea will just not stay quiet until I write it down. I tell it that “I’ll get to you later” by writing it down. Sometimes I’ll use the idea in a post with a few other ideas and not even know I’ve already jotted it down in my notebook earlier. That is OK too. Better to have it in two places than none.