As often as I write this blog and share what’s on my heart, hoping it will resonate with someone, I know the process begins within me. I write out of a need to deal with my own failings and short-comings. In my head, I always like to think someone out there needs to hear this. And truth be told, I’ve heard from so many of you over the last couple years. I know there are others who identify in similar ways with what’s being shared. But a lot of where this starts is with me. Tough topics and brutal honesty are what I need to hear. So I preach into a mirror, looking at myself and being forthright that I’m definitely not there yet. And this side of heaven, I’ll always be a work in progress!
Today’s blog title came about as I was struck by a phrase I heard on Christian radio. The host of a morning show was talking about God meeting and supplying our needs and our dependence upon what He gives and when He gives it. The phrase went something like “God always gives us just enough.” I often look at my perceived needs and say, “God, you’ve really gotta come through and provide. I don’t know how _____ (fill the blank situation) is going to work out.” Often it can be financial and I struggle with seeing where funds or resources will come together (especially as I venture deeper into ministry). Other times it’s just seeing desperate situations in other people’s lives and struggling with how God will meet the need.
I love the story from Exodus 16 in which God provides manna and quail for the Israelites while they are in the wilderness. To me, it illustrates and parallels our dependence upon God’s provision which is a daily process. The very short recap of this passage is that Israel, having left Egypt now finds itself without a home and wandering hungry in the desert. They complain and grumble to Moses, who then goes to the Lord on their behalf. God provides for the people in a miraculous way, demonstrating that He is able to give enough to meet their need:
This evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt; in the morning you will see the LORD’s glory because He has heard your complaints about Him…[He] will give you meat to eat this evening and abundant bread in the morning. Exodus 16:6-8
I’d like to dive into the topic with Exodus 16 being the backdrop. If it helps, read through the passage so you have the context in mind. I believe God has something to say for our modern times even through this ancient text. Let’s begin, shall we?
1. God is the provider of daily bread
When I was a kid and heard the phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread,” I always assumed this was asking God for food and specifically, for bread itself. It’s interesting how passages can start as a literal concept and then grow into something more the older we get. Obviously, we can ask God for literal food and that’s what Israel wanted. But beyond meeting the physical appetites of our bodies, God has daily bread He wants us to consume and feed upon spiritually. A lot of us are walking around tired and hungry, not realizing it’s because our spiritual bodies are so malnourished.
When the people of Israel were enslaved in Egypt, they didn’t think a lot about food because it was readily available. [In Egypt], we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Exodus 16:3 In the wilderness, they no longer have that comfort and have stepped into a new journey. In this they have to realize more fully their dependence upon God. We likewise can get “fat and lazy” spiritually speaking if we see our needs met and believe we can handle life on our own. God wants us to look to Him daily, in trust and dependence.
2. We are responsible for feeding ourselves
They gathered it [manna] every morning. Each gathered as much as he needed to eat. Exodus 16:21
God commands Israel to collect daily rations of manna. This required active obedience upon their part to feed themselves. He made the provision, however, they still needed to go out and gather it. And miraculously, whatever they gathered was somehow just enough for that day (vs. 18). When they tried to gather more and store up for the next day, it only grew moldy and was thrown out (unless they were gathering extra for the Sabbath). He gave them exactly what they needed to survive.
Spiritually-speaking, many of us are not going out and allowing God’s word to be our daily sustenance (again, I’m being honest here and starting with me). Some of us are binging on “spiritual-looking” stuff (conferences, books, seminars, etc) but we are not going about the process of opening the Bible and allowing it to speak to us. I’m not saying anything bad about those other sources, but God’s word is a love letter from Him to you. He wants you to read it, digest it, and allow it to bear fruit in your life. You are responsible for feeding yourself, just as I am responsible for feeding myself.
3. What we think we need and what God knows we need are often different
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
Again going back to my own life, I have a ton of needs that I think God should be providing. Not only providing, but doing so in excess. I’m aware that He can supply above and beyond all we can ask for or desire. And when He does, it’s in a way that blows my socks off. Praise God! But He doesn’t do those things without my priority first being in Him and seeking His face.
What I think God needs to do is often the exact opposite of what He actually does. The path He takes us on is one that causes us to recognize our daily dependence upon Him is vital. It’s our lifeline. Daily prayer is a necessity. Daily Bible reading and feeding on God’s word is huge. If I’m not doing those things, I’m not experiencing life in the fullest way He intended. If I change my perspective and choose to see what He sees as good for me, the whole script gets flipped.
You see, my natural perspective is very self-focused: I want the bank account full and savings primed for retirement. I want the vehicles to be nice and in tip-top shape with no issues (because let’s face it, I’m all thumbs when it comes to cars). I want the house to be large and spacious with plenty of room. I want all of these things that I believe give me happiness and fulfillment in life. My desires aren’t much different than Israel’s, who seeing the course they were on, honestly believed they had it better in Egypt. They would’ve gone back to slavery and traded a life of promise for the momentary fulfillment of a few unmet needs.
Some of us by our desires and actions are honestly saying “I want more than Christ. I want what this world has to offer. Give me a little Jesus sprinkled on top and that’s enough.” But Jesus wants to have a bigger claim upon your life than just a few spare moments here or there. He wants you to see that He is your daily bread and that He can provide all that you long for. He wants you to see that He is the God of just enough.
I’m hoping today’s blog sparks more conviction than condemnation, more faith than fear. We have so much to live for and Christ calls us to move forward in wholehearted obedience.
Would love to hear from you!