Manna

God’s Word tells such magnificent stories of His faithfulness.Lately the story has been the tale of a God that delivered His people from Egypt, spent decades journeying with them over the river and through the woods, loving them in discipline and drawing them near to Him. The same God that guided all these Israelites through the wilderness is the same God that is guiding our little family of 3 through South Africa today. I have been so blessed by the manna God is still providing for His beloved.

In the days of monotonous rhythms, manna provides basic survival. In the days of empty desert wandering, manna provides the impossible. In the days of my own disobedience, manna provides care I don’t deserve. In the days of questions and confusion, manna shows up at my doorstep reminding me that God not only sees me and knows where I am, but that He is present with me.

As the people of Israel were quick to point out, “This manna is not what we want!” They longed for the pleasure of juicy, tender meat and refreshing pomegranates on their lips. As do I, Israelites. I am all too familiar with the part of the heart that is unsatisfied with only the manna. But as Taylor and I keep walking on this journey through what sometimes feels like wilderness, the Lord is teaching us great things about the manna. First of all, the manna shows up. Time and time again it is there to fill empty stomachs. I can rest assured of its presence when I need it most. Second of all, the manna satisfies needs that go deeper than I can fathom. Many days my stomach convinces me that meat would be better. Healthier. Tastier. More logical. I mean really! I could prepare it so nicely and then even have a few leftovers to freeze for a rainy day. But the manna keeps showing up on my plate and filling me just enough to help me take the next step.

God’s character is so beautifully evident in this heaven-sent manna. It boasts of His faithfulness. It proclaims that He is in control. It declares He knows precisely what we need, when we need it, and how much of it we need. Best of all, it is perfect evidence that God sees His people and does not lead them into the wilderness to leave them alone. He goes before us. He makes a way. With each step I take, I am learning that acknowledging the manna is exactly the purpose God had for it. Thank you, Father, for this bread that gives life. Lord, you provided exactly what I needed in that moment. My God, I could not see what options we had left to survive, and I looked to my left to see manna by my side and a rock flowing with water.

My prayer used to be for God to give me just enough “meaty” days to help balance out the measly old manna. Then I began to realize it was the manna that left me more satisfied than any other feast in which I could take part. Funny how God works. These days, I catch myself being nourished more and more on a simple meal of manna and water eaten with dirty hands and on tired feet than I do with glamorous parties of the finest things. God is faithful.

Let me tell you about my Monday.

I woke up to the now familiar pregnant aches of the “what was happening all night long to make me feel like a Mack truck paid my body a visit?” feeling. As I lay in bed knowing the alarm had already done its job and it was time to face the day, my heart took a minute to rejoice in prayer for the little girl I felt wriggling around in my tummy, every stiffness in my body and each of my struggles for a deep breath a beautiful reminder of her growing strength. I thanked God that He is holding her before I am able to myself.

About twenty minutes prior I heard Taylor grinding the coffee. Now things had quieted a bit, which meant he had settled on the couch with his daily mug and his Bible. It also meant he had time to turn on the little space heater which was beginning to push back the cold that had settled overnight. With that warm motivation, I stood up to get the day started and met Taylor on the couch with a good morning kiss, my yogurt, and my Bible. The time came for us to part ways, him bundled up on his motorcycle toward the farm and me toward the school with a bag of sight word flash cards slung over my shoulder. The moments before we each walk out the door are a treasured time between the two of us. We meet with quiet hearts and hands grasped to go before God in prayer. This particular morning, Taylor’s words seemed to summon the Holy Spirit into our home in the most calming of ways. God is with us. He is with our day to day, our futures, our baby girl, our families. He is going before us and loving within us and throughout us. May we ever recognize both the joy and the responsibility in that. “The peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7 Indeed, today I felt so guarded.

Fast forward a few hours to a wintry classroom full of small voices blending letters together to make words for the very first time. Imagine these little hearts receiving affirmation that they matter to the world. It’s music. Not 6th grade band recital racket, but more like Mozart’s finest performance. As if everything is in its right place and the harmony it produces flows freely and smoothly into your ears. As my soul was already soaring from the smiles of children who once shrunk back in timidity, I stepped out of the classroom to pick up another batch of students. My heart sang even louder as tiny hands and sweet kisses bombarded my growing bump from every direction. My little baby girl, showered in love from God’s children. My heart may burst.

Because of a few glitches in our normal scheduled venue for afternoon clubs, my good friend and coworker, Tanja, and I were able to walk through the Mountain View community and check in with some of our teens at their homes. This unstructured time is always such a fruitful venture of connecting, reaching out, and being present in the teens’ lives. I much prefer it to actual club time, honestly. I just love something about gathering where they are in life at that moment. On Monday, two of our visits consisted of meeting brand new babies in the arms of their brand new mommies (one duo was literally 12 hours old!). What a privilege it is to pray into these new roles of child and parent. Prayers that break through nervous eyes, regrets at the loss of childhood to motherhood, celebrations of a new little one, giant fears that don’t know what comes next, and sleepless nights. God sees and holds both mother and child as they each transition into the future He has for them.

As the winter day moved on, the occasional ray of sunshine brought warmth into every crevice of my body. I pulled out of Mountain View toward Kommetjie Beach, the spot that has played such a haven for us throughout this African journey. I looked out to see Taylor among a sea of surfers with a backdrop of glorious mountains and I set out for a walk as the sun allowed for just one more hour of daylight. When the sun sunk down for its final goodbye, I met my sopping wet husband with a dry towel and a fleece jacket and we went on our way home for the night. Hearts full. Joy realized.

That was my Monday. It wasn’t dazzling or extraordinary. It didn’t cost much or require any makeup. But it tasted good on my lips and it was a day that left me full and satisfied. Just enough to keep me moving and trusting that God is holding tomorrow. Just like the manna.

God is good. All the time.

Deuteronomy 4:9 "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from you heart as long as you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them."

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