God has some wild imagination. Just picture those hapless Israelites, out whining in the wilderness about what’s for dinner. In comes the Provider, sprinkles some wafer-honey-like-matter all over their neighborhood, calls it “manna,” and tells them to gather away. But the weird thing was, if they gathered a lot—it was enough. If they gathered a little—it was enough. And if they tried to hoard it away for the next day, it rotted and wormed and stunk. (Except on the day before Sabbath; on that day the manna lasted for two days.)
Manna. Heaven’s bread.1
The thing about God’s word is that it’s full of landmines, the good kind, buried treasure waiting for discovery, waiting for explosion down deep in your soul. But hold that thought.
Anyway, years after the manna incident, Jesus comes along, lives like no other, loves like no other, teaches like nobody’s business, and spreads healing and miracles everywhere he goes. Lives, loves, dies, loves, rises, loves, invites us to join him, loves, and here we are.
During his time on earth, Jesus said something startling: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”2
Wow. Jesus. Heaven’s bread.
But back to manna. If I’m a hapless Israelite wandering in the wilderness, and today’s manna is only good for today, then I better go get some every day.
There was a difficult season in my marriage lasting a few years; we separated for 1 ½ years. But in the few years leading up to the separation, life in our house was tense. Bad. Talk about wandering in a wilderness! (We made things right during the separation, so we’re good now and that’s another story.)
Meanwhile, during that stressful season, I was chasing hard after God. And every day, I was asking God for “unconditional love” for my family members. Things were so tense in the house that everybody was on edge, and I had lost those loving feelings. Feelings aren’t everything, but it sure helps to feel like loving when you’re trying to act like loving for the sake of your faith.
So nearly every day, I’d get on my face and ask God to fill me with his spirit; I’d ask for love—unconditional love for the “undeserving”—and I’d get it!
(“Undeserving” is in quotes because all of us were undeserving but when you’re wallowing in your mess it usually feels like it’s their fault.)
By the end of each day, after dealing with (my perceived) difficult people, all of that love I had gathered in the morning had leaked out, spilled out, disappeared, dissolved.
Next day, if I tried to love well without help from heaven, my love stunk. Rotted. Wormy. It was actually non-love.
But every time I’d meet with the Bread of Life, I’d gather more love for the day and I’d feel renewed affection and mercy towards those hapless Israelites—I mean family members—in my house.
(Hey family, if you’re reading this, please realize that I was the most hapless of all during that time! And I can feel a vulnerability hangover coming on as I write!)
Bottom line: need love? GET MANNA!
Meet with God each morning. Ask him to fill you with his spirit. Believe that he is doing it as you wait with him. Ask him to fill you with unconditional love.
Then go love. Then watch the love leak out and wear out as life presses against you.
And then do it again the next day, gather more manna, and watch what happens!
“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”3