If I were there in the desert with them, I probably would have done the same thing. My stubborn heart would have reacted in the same way in response to the miraculous. To bread coming down from Heaven to feed their weary bodies–not just the pangs of hunger rumbling in their stomachs, but the ache inside of them longing to know if this God that they followed out of Egypt would continue to show up for them over and over again. The silent question posed behind their hungry grumbling and God gives them His answer. He sends down bread from Heaven–from His very home, the place where He dwells–to provide for His people in the wilderness. And I wonder what the landscape looked like that first morning as the people came out of their tents in the first light of day to see the ground covered in heavenly frosting that was theirs for the gathering. The nourishment that they were so desperate for straight from the hand of God.
He asked them to trust Him. To gather just what they needed for that day and leave nothing leftover. To believe that He is who He says He is and that He will rain down His majesty on them each and every day to provide for their needs and come through for them. Every. Single. Day. Gather the bread that is needed for today–just that one day that was before them. Embracing fully His provision in that moment and not worrying about the day to come. And some of them listened and some of them failed. For those that tried to hold onto the manna of God’s provision for the next day, they awoke to disgust instead. To vermin crawling through what was meant to be the beauty that God was lavishing upon them from yesterday.
And I get it. They were afraid that He wouldn’t come through for them the next day. That perhaps He meant it for the moment that He wanted to provide for His people, but perhaps there some among the multitude that were afraid that when they messed up–because they knew that they would–that God would take it away. That His perfect provision of today would go away tomorrow. That in their failure to be good enough and proving just the opposite that God would remove His hand and say no more, leaving them with rumbling stomachs and grumbling hearts in the desert.
Or maybe, just maybe, they were so hungry that they were afraid to fully enjoy the feast set before them–this dew rained down from Heaven that makes no sense in this barren, desert place. So they ate it sparingly, afraid that God’s lavish provision would just last the day so that the fear of it being taken away kept them from embracing the very gift that He set before them. So they tried to save it to last more than just that speck of a moment, and in doing so missed out on fulling embracing the beauty of God’s miraculous provision in the wilderness, and also deadened their hearts to the joy and the wonder of God showing up and doing the very same thing the very next day.
I feel like I am the same way. This is a season of my life where I can feel the tide shifting beneath me–the current taking me to some place that I have never gone before. And there is so much of that I enjoy and find exhilarating and exciting. Things are changing beneath the surface of it all as God continues to work down in the deep, and in this place so many lies have come to light that God has stomped right over with His triumphant truth and He is giving me eyes to see the fruit of some of the hardest moments of my life where I stepped out in faithfulness not knowing why or what He was doing or how good could possibly come from it all, but trusting Him anyway simply because He is God and going another way was never an option.
Yes, things are changing and I recognize within me this fear of truly embracing it. I have come to know what joy tastes like in the midst of suffering but joy just on it’s own is something else altogether. A new mile marker on this journey that God has been faithfully leading me on. And I read this story of God sending bread from Heaven and the people trying to save it for tomorrow and I wonder if just like me they were afraid of fully embracing just what God had given them for that day. That the joy and the wonder of it would be so fleeting that they couldn’t fully enjoy His mercy of that day in the fear of it being taken away and knowing that it couldn’t possibly last.
I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to miss out on the beauty of the day that is before me in the fear of it being taken away tomorrow. And I know that God doesn’t want that for me either. That He is right there before me just bursting with eager excitement for me to embrace the joy and the wonder of all that is set before me, and that it hurts His heart when I hold back out of fear and out of distrust of His goodness really being that good. The joy just turns rotten when I don’t fully embrace its fullness and instead try to save some for the morning. I miss out on the awe of God’s provision for the day that is before me and the intimacy that comes with trusting Him fully for just what is ahead and believing that He will rain down fresh mercies to meet all of my needs for the coming day so I don’t need to worry about having enough for the day and saving more for tomorrow. It robs today of the joy that He wants me to embrace, and it steals the beauty of tomorrow when I wake up to rotten joy.
This shifting tide is leading me to a place that I have never gone before, but no matter what may come, I want to reach my arms up wide and fully take in all that He sets before me today. Because today is beauty and joy and wonder and goodness all wrapped up together. And I want to celebrate it. I want to celebrate the hardship that has brought me here and the curious excitement of where there is still to go. Living with open hands to receive all the joy that He wants to place in my hands for today or for this season. To fully ride out His goodness and not miss one single morsel of heavenly bread just because this may be a season that is fleeting. God provided for His people’s needs in the wilderness in a very special way, but the manna from Heaven was just a season. And then He led them into the land of promise and provided for them in different ways. But never once did He hold out. Never once since then has He stopped raining down new mercies each and everyday.
I don’t want to wake up to see that the goodness that God has placed before me has turned sour just because I was afraid to fully embrace it in the moment. That just as suffering is a guaranteed part of our journeys here on this earth, that joy is as well. And that we shouldn’t discount the one in fear of more of the other. This is a new season of new joys and new wonders, and I don’t want to miss a single taste.