Manna Living

When God provided the children of Israel with manna, it was a daily provision (except on the 6th day, when He gave them two days’ worth so they didn’t have to work on the day of rest, the Sabbath). But any more than just what they needed and it got wormy and stinky. The point was to trust God for His provision each and every day, knowing that He had already promised to provide for them.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Exodus 16:4-5

So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer (2 quarts or 3 1/2 quarts or 1/2 gallon dry measure) for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.'” Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one’s need. And Moses said, “Let no one leave any of it till morning.” Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Exodus 16:15-20

Interesting – I never noticed this part until typing the verses out, but in verse 4 the Lord says,

Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them whether they will walk in My law or not.

Will they trust Him? Will they obey what He has said? God gave the promise and the provision. It seems that some did and some didn’t. Which I suppose is indicative of my own walk today. Do I trust Him? Well, let’s back up a moment. Do I know what He has said? Do I know His promises? And when I do learn of them, do I trust Him and His word? Does He provide situations in which He is testing me? No doubt. Not sure how well I do, though. I know of more times that I mess up, probably because my focus tends to be on the negative side of things.

Where I often struggle is that I want to hang onto today’s provision for tomorrow and the next week and next year, because it was so good and such a blessing. His Word today might’ve spoken volumes to me, so I want to hang onto that. A particular Bible study really ministers to me, so I must hang onto it, too. A teaching I listened to brought conviction and encouragement. So I need to hang onto it as well.

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But what if I could look at life through the lens of Manna Living? Yes, that was the word I needed to hear on that particular day – and certainly it can still speak to me the next day and the next. But it doesn’t mean that it has to be memorialized and preserved forever. Because tomorrow I will likely need a different word from God. While keeping records and journals can be good, and certainly it’s a blessing to go back and remember what God has done and the stories of our lives, it has to be balanced with living here and now, depending upon God for today’s manna, and trusting Him with tomorrow’s needs.

Even in the Lord’s prayer, we’re told to pray for daily provision – “Give us this day our daily bread.” Provide what we need today, Lord. Not looking to stockpile for next week or next year. Does that mean it’s wrong to plan ahead and make preparations? I don’t believe so. The same God also says, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer, or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.” Proverbs 6:6-8

In Genesis 41, “And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.” Clearly He has them plan ahead and store food here. But I believe that there are a couple of issues at hand:

  1. We have to trust God to provide – in whatever way HE chooses to provide. It may be daily, it might be through storing up and planning ahead. But no matter HOW He chooses, we have to keep our focus and our trust in Him, and Him alone. We are not to begin to trust in the reserves that we have stored up.
  2. We can only know God’s desire for us as we spend time in our relationship with Him. We can’t know which He would have us each do if we don’t communicate with Him AND listen to His leading.

It always comes back to our relationship with Him and our faith and trust in Him and His word.

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The Long Way Around

***Okay, this needs a little back story, as well as some after story. I wrote this probably a year and a half ago as a devotional to share with a small group of ladies. It’s been in the back of my Bible since then and the other day, I thought I should put it here on my blog. It took me a couple of days to get it wrapped up, but tonight I finally did, and posted it. Then I went to read before going to sleep.

I’m currently reading Priscilla Shirer‘s book, “One in a Million.” I just started the second section, entitled “Deliverance.” The first chapter in that section is called, “The Long Way Home.” Lo and behold, she is talking about the EXACT SAME THING as what I wrote here. Even more interesting is that I’d never heard this particular point taught before God shared it with me for this devotional a year and a half ago. Never mind that her book was published in 2010.

Whoa!

God never ceases to blow me away with His careful weaving together of the details in my life.

I am awestruck.***

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After years of Egyptian captivity, when the Hebrews are finally freed from Pharaoh, “God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near, for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.'” (Exodus 13:17) Instead, God took them the long way around.

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How often do I long for short cuts? Yet, the Lord knows the danger they can pose. For the Hebrews, He knew they might freak out and go back to Egypt when obstacles arose. But am I any different? Isn’t it common for us as humans to look at difficult circumstances and become fearful? What do we do with those fears? I think many of us look for a place to retreat. At that point, it’s not always about our sanctification, growing in faith or closer to the Lord. It’s about comfort. But in order to keep us from fleeing in fear, God will sometimes lead us the long way around.

This reminds me of a sort of humorous issue I used to have with a particular intersection in town. There were two left turn lanes and people would very often be in the left of the two lanes and then jump over into the right lane once they were through the intersection (or as they went through it), cutting people off in the process, so they could make an immediate right turn. I would go in the correct lane to make that right turn like I was supposed to. I would pray and try to be patient and calm, but I couldn’t do it. I could never get through the intersection without becoming angry, critical, and controlling. Since I wasn’t able to handle that, God made me go the long way around. It will always be better to take the long way than to fall – or leap – into sin.

When the Hebrews reached the Red Sea, their perspective was probably that they were trapped; cornered by the Egyptian army. So what do they do? They complain against Moses, and ultimately against God. Notice Moses’ response:

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.'” Exodus 14:13-14

First he encourages them to not be afraid. Fear completely thwarts our ability to think clearly and rationally. Then he exhorts them to stand still. Naturally, that’s the last thing we want to do when we’re afraid. Usually, we’d rather run. In the opposite direction. They had no choice, though. There was nowhere for them to flee. Then he tells them to see. Fear can cause us to shut our eyes – tightly. How in the world can we deal with a threat, or decide what to do, when we can’t see? But that’s not what God wants them to see anyway. He wants them to see the “salvation of the Lord that He will accomplish for you today“. Not salvation that comes from anywhere else, but from God almighty. And notice that He’s the one to accomplish it. Not with their help. Not with anything or anyone else. It’s God and God alone.

Additionally, look at the incredible miracle that God performed in taking them via the Red Sea. They may not have seen the hand of God in such a way had they taken another route. God’s detours can bring amazing, faith-building miracles. And this has been recorded for all of history to be shared with a multitude of generations.

The beautiful ending to this is recounted in Exodus 14:31 – “Thus Israel saw (seeing the right thing) the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord (the right kind of fear), and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.” The long way around may have seemed harder, but ultimately, it grew their faith and trust in God, and in Exodus 15, you can read their song of praise to Him.

So if you feel like your current path is longer than it should be, rest and trust in the Lord, knowing that He has you in His sights all the way. He hasn’t forsaken you, but He has something for you that will be worth it.

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***And now, another edit to this post. I shared this whole story with John this morning and my amazement at the way God wove these two pieces of the story together. Then he got excited as he pulled up his morning devotional from Alistair Begg, entitled “The Joy of Safety” It actually picks up where I left off, with the song of praise to God in Exodus 15. As ever, God continues the story.

Yoga, part 1

I called it Part 1, because I’m anticipating a part 2.

Last month, Creative Live had a sale on their video classes and I kept Yoga for Photographers open in a tab for weeks. I thought it might be a good place to get started with something to stretch my body and improve my flexibility. The last day of the sale, I finally bought it.

pink water bottleToday, I finally downloaded it and got cracking. Fortunately, I sleep in clothes which are conducive to yoga, so I didn’t even have to change. Talk about lazy. It was later in the morning than I’d hoped to do it, and yes, I had other things I should do, but I knew I needed this. Especially after shooting a volleyball tournament on Sunday and being reminded of how inflexible my body really is. I don’t want to go through another season being so stiff and sore.

The first class is an hour long – although she does talk a little bit in the beginning. I made it about half way through before getting kind of lightheaded. Sometimes when I’m up and down or bending over and standing up or other such movements, I get a bit woozy. Since the two things she emphasized were 1) listening to your body and 2) breathing, I decided that lightheaded and woozy was my body’s way of saying it was time to stop now. But that’s okay. I did it. I got started. I’m a long ways from getting well into some of these poses, but I don’t care. I still started.

The really cool thing? I actually feel more energized – even after a short first yoga session. I think the blood and oxygen flow in my body is better and I don’t feel all sluggish (like I often do!). Kind of exciting, really. I also notice my breathing, just in everyday life. So I’m working on breathing better. That’s an area I definitely need help in, as I’ve noticed that I have rather shallow, through-the-mouth breathing, which I really don’t like. Hopefully, this will help that, too.

Move More Eat Well Jumpstart

Big Picture Classes

That’s a mouth full – Move More Eat Well Jumpstart. Or MMEW, as I shall call it henceforth. Forthwith.

I’m quite hesitant to join anything new these days. It seems my commitment and discipline muscles have atrophied significantly in recent years. With this knowledge, I predetermine that I will quit or fail, so it’s really not worth the effort of signing up, joining, trying, or whatever, as it will be yet one more guilt-inducing project, plan, club, group, or whatever.

But if I continue to live my life that way, I will go nowhere. Except down a slippery slope of self-loathing. Which I really don’t need.

The other thing I’ve learned about myself is that when I DO join something, I keep it to myself. I no longer share, I don’t have any accountability, so that when I quit/fail/etc., no one else will know. In fact, maybe it never really happened in the first place, right? Yeah, not so much. Somewhere in my teflon-coated colander brain, I know. And try as I might to ignore that, it’s still there, gnawing at me and leading to the slipper slope of self-loathing. What a vicious, ugly cycle it all is.

So here is my “throw my hat into the ring, admit that I’ve signed up for something to help myself, and that I really want to make changes in my life” post. Now I just have to let people know that this blog exists. Bwahahahaha!!! (It’s another one of those “keep it to myself” deals. Clearly, I have issues.)

Time to choose better and stop letting my life slide away while following the path of least resistance.