This has happened for me recently.
It all started with the idea of manna, which, in my mind, is linked to the ideas of fear and trust. Manna falls from the sky everyday in the wilderness, you aren't supposed to store it. Each day, you trust that God will be faithful, that He will not forget to feed you.
I read a blog post a while back by Sarah Bessey about how art is like manna. We can store up our creative ideas and think that we should save them for something special: a book, a future publication, the time when our work is recognized. She found herself doing that, and sometimes I do too. I have worried about it on this blog, even. What if I use up all my ideas? What if my creativity dries up?
I forget where I get my art to begin with. Art is like manna.
I was challenged with another aspect of manna the other evening at small group. We read these verses:
10 While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. 11 On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.
If you're familiar with this story, you will know that the Israelites had been wandering around in the wilderness since they left Egypt, waiting for the last people who remembered captivity to die. They had come up before the promised land before, and those people had trembled and refused to enter. Now, the younger generation would have their turn.
I am not at all sure how I've never realized this before, but right there in small group it hit me: this was the first time these people had eaten anything except manna and quail.
All of a sudden, they are feasting on huge grapes and meat they've never tasted. All their lives, they have been listening to promises of a land flowing with milk and honey and had no context whatsoever for that statement. Their elders knew what it meant, had memories even, but the children knew only manna and quail.
They get to the Promised Land, have an experimental dinner, then watch the food they have known their entire lives completely stop.
God blesses me exuberantly. He gives me meaningful work and people, things I need and food to eat. It is almost never what I expect, does not look the way I think it will and is often totally outside my comfort zone.
It feels like every time I get comfortable with manna, the blessing He has given so far, He mixes it up and challenges me with hot cross buns or a custardy quiche. Milk and honey. The taste is good, but I have to get used to it.
In some seasons of my life, I am more focused on the manna. I am focused on what I need to press in to God for every day. A dear friend sent me a text this week with the thought that peace is like manna, we have to go to God for it every day because it expires. I love that. For some things, I find that I need to trust that God will still be the same today and tomorrow and yesterday and still do the things He said He would do.
Sometimes, I find myself at a banquet of unfamiliar blessing in the Promised Land. I pray for the grace to give thanks either way.