Manna in the wilderness was the sign-off from the email I received yesterday. We receive emails all the time and I’m always
Interested in the ways we sign-off. It’s the last words we read before the name of the person who was writing.
For this person, perhaps she was feeling encouraged by our exchange of emails.
Encouragement, that day, was manna.
And this pastor is preaching Exodus right now as many of you are who are following the lectionary. Questions popping up for me. . .
What is manna? What is wilderness?
Exodus 16:2-15 from The Message:
16 1-3 On the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left Egypt, the whole company of Israel moved on from Elim to the Wilderness of Sin which is between Elim and Sinai. The whole company of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron there in the wilderness. The Israelites said, “Why didn’t God let us die in comfort in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all the bread we could eat? You’ve brought us out into this wilderness to starve us to death, the whole company of Israel!”
4-5 God said to Moses, “I’m going to rain bread down from the skies for you. The people will go out and gather each day’s ration. I’m going to test them to see if they’ll live according to my Teaching or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they have gathered, it will turn out to be twice as much as their daily ration.”
6-7 Moses and Aaron told the People of Israel, “This evening you will know that it is God who brought you out of Egypt; and in the morning you will see the Glory of God. Yes, he’s listened to your complaints against him. You haven’t been complaining against us, you know, but against God.”
8 Moses said, “Since it will be God who gives you meat for your meal in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, it’s God who will have listened to your complaints against him. Who are we in all this? You haven’t been complaining to us—you’ve been complaining to God!”
9 Moses instructed Aaron: “Tell the whole company of Israel: ‘Come near to God. He’s heard your complaints.’”
10 When Aaron gave out the instructions to the whole company of Israel, they turned to face the wilderness. And there it was: the Glory of God visible in the Cloud.
11-12 God spoke to Moses, “I’ve listened to the complaints of the Israelites. Now tell them: ‘At dusk you will eat meat and at dawn you’ll eat your fill of bread; and you’ll realize that I am God, your God.’”
13-15 That evening quail flew in and covered the camp and in the morning there was a layer of dew all over the camp. When the layer of dew had lifted, there on the wilderness ground was a fine flaky something, fine as frost on the ground. The Israelites took one look and said to one another, man-hu (What is it?). They had no idea what it was.
15-16 So Moses told them, “It’s the bread God has given you to eat. And these are God’s instructions: ‘Gather enough for each person, about two quarts per person; gather enough for everyone in your tent.’”
What is wilderness?
For the Israelites it seems the wilderness is this new place without enough:
Not enough food.
Not enough water.
Not enough comforts of home.
Are you in a wilderness, a place of not enough? I reluctantly admit I am finding it hard to be satisfied with what I have… I want more. I want normal – maybe? What is that? I want something that I can’t really identify. I feel, most days, like I want “more” but could not tell you more of what. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I need to be better. Maybe more of me is required. Maybe I am not enough.
This feels like a wilderness.
These days are ones of searching.
And reaching, trying to grasp hold of how to live out each day.
How to understand I am enough.
God made me. Aren’t I enough?
That’s how I feel. That’s my wilderness.
Moses and Aaron told the People of Israel, “This evening you will know that it is God who brought you out of Egypt; and in the morning you will see the Glory of God. Yes, he’s listened to your complaints against him.
Have I been complaining? Is that me? Maybe that’s why I’m reluctant to admit my “wants.” I’m complaining about something I can’t even I identify. I don’t know what I want. It just feels like there should be more!
And there is. . .
It is in the wilderness that God hears the
cry of the Israelites. God hears and responds.
God hears and provides. Lamb stew? No.
Manna. Bread which rained down from the sky! That’s the glory of God, right? God shows us, gives us, sustains us. Seeing the glory of God and recognizing the gift. God hear me, even my complaints, and God provides. And it is enough!!
Bread for the journey.
Although I nag (myself? God?) about more, each day, I have enough.
Not too little, not too much. Enough.
I am finding hope. I am!
I am finding hope when I talk to Harbor pastors who are energized making videos, designing worship, and finding new community connections. Manna for sure!
I am finding peace where neighbors are loving neighbors. And, for that day, it is enough. Each day, there is manna to find. And there is enough for that day.
I go out the next day, I look around and gather more. Sometimes I find the manna and sometimes the manna finds me. God provides.
A phone call from a friend reminds me how very precious long-time friendships are.
In the wilderness.
A lemonade stand
with neighborhood children
Manna. For that day.
A cool morning that tells me the season is changing and I can drink coffee outside.
Ahhhh, back porch manna.
A visit to the doctor,
answers for a loved one,
to bring waiting to an end,
to know next steps.
Manna, bread, longed for.
A renewed discipline of listening, praying, reading, meditating. Ten minutes with God at time… Manna.
What is your manna in the wilderness? Are you gathering some each day? Do you see the manna that is there for the taking? What is enough, from God, for you?
Sustenance for this wilderness journey. Enough. One day at a time.
Look for the manna and may the manna find its way into your basket.
Thank you, God, for your provision. Give us eyes to see and hearts to recognize the manna lying around, ready to be gathered. May we be manna, offer manna, for one another in this wilderness. We love you. We thank you for hearing us when we cry.
Even in, especially in, this wilderness.
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