“Good. GOSH! What is that smell? It’s nauseating!” she cried to her mother in the wee hours of the morning.
“Did you forget to throw out the quail from last night?” her mother yelled back.
The young Israelite girl continued looking around the tent for the source of this horrid smell until she tripped and stumbled over a white bucket in the middle of the floor. Stanch, rotted mush sloshed out from the bucket as maggots began to worm their way through the slush and onto the tent floor.
So, I don’t know if it actually played out this way, but the Bible writes about this ‘stashing of food’ as something that was a serious…no no.
Over in Exodus 16, the Israelites had just been freed from slavery in Egypt and were on their way to The Promised Land. They were tired from their journey, wondering how they were going to survive, and quite frankly– this “Promised Land” didn’t seem so promising. One particular day, they were wailing and complaining to their leaders about how much better their lives were as slaves in Egypt when they had… *that’s right*…good food.
Hunger makes you crazy, I swear.
Yet, God in his faithfulness tells them:
“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” (Ex.16: 4).
The Israelites had to rely on God each day, each morning, trusting that when they woke up, there would be food on the ground ready for them to eat and gather. Even still, people were concerned God might not come through. So they saved. They stocked. They stashed away some extra manna *just in case* God slept in and forgot about them.
“However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them” (Ex. 16:20)
Why was it such a big deal if they kept a little extra? Maybe it was because God was more concerned with their willingness to rely on Him, than their ability to supply for themselves. They simply couldn’t survive on yesterday’s food. In their wandering through the unknown, they had to keep trusting God by coming back morning after morning for more of this Bread from Heaven. This act of relying on God for food would train them to rely on God for even greater things.
As comical as this story is to read, I can’t help but wonder what this “manna” represents for us.
Ironically enough, Jesus is actually referred to as the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35).
His presence is our nourishment, our source of survival, our peace and our sustenance. If this is true- if He really is all of these things- then why is it we feel being with Him every once and awhile is enough?
In the words of some random Pinterest Poet: “The Bible is meant to be bread for daily use, not cake for special occasions.”
It’s not about checking the “I read my bible today” or the “I prayed” box. It’s about being with Him. Learning from Him. Spending time in His presence just for the sake of knowing Him. We get to be creative with this and spend time with God in ways that are different for everybody. When we realize that time with God is like daily nourishment, going without it is like going without food.
We simply cannot survive on yesterday’s Presence; we must keep coming back for more.
Just as the Israelites came morning after morning to gather that day’s nourishment, we are called to do the same. We were purposed, wired and designed for community with God; to fellowship with Him through His word and prayer. Why? Because He actually satisfies. When He is truly our daily bread, we no longer find ourselves scrounging on the floor desperately looking for scraps that last but only a moment.
When we spend time with Him daily, we realize that He is enough.
He is enough to get us through the demands of the day without ripping someone’s head off. He is enough to help us overcome the opposition that will come against us. His presence becomes a constant companion when loneliness is so heavy. When we are with Him we realize, there is grace for today- and it’s enough to get us through.
If we are called to abide in Him, we must be nourished by Him.
So linger with Him a little bit longer today. And tomorrow. See what it is that He would have you gather.
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