When Daily Bread Goes Stale

Each morning they picked up their bread from the ground, for forty years.

On a journey they weren’t expecting, impatient with God’s misdirection and seeming neglect, the Israelites harvested the honey-flavored wafers that fell like snow each morning with the dew.

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They’d never seen anything like it, which is how it got its name:

manna,

“what is it.”

It’s humbling to rely on God for our daily provision. Our pride and self-confidence can squirm under the knowledge that despite our best attempts He is our sole source of nourishment and refuge. Resentment and ingratitude can rise in response to our dependent position.

 Why is that?

Is it because we begin to worry that we can’t control Him? That if He chooses not to come through for us there’s nothing we can do?

Or, is it because we know He’s watching to see how we make use of His provision? Every part of our life becomes scrutinized to discover if we’re good stewards.

“Should I be setting some manna aside? Are we gathering too much? Do other’s have enough?”

I wonder: 

After a while did the Israelites stop asking what it was?

Did they become blasé about the daily collection of this miracle provision?

Was it a chore instead of a blessing?

There are days, weeks even, where the thought of cracking open my Bible, sitting in His presence, going to church or raising my hands in song seem exhausting.

Dry

Dead

Stale

My “daily bread” from God no longer satisfies my hunger. The delicate wafer doesn’t look to be enough and my desire is for more.

What has changed? 

God’s provision is what is always has been, perfectly designed to fit my every need.

My perception has changed. Instead of coming to Him with wonder, awe, gratitude, I view Him as a slave driver demanding subjection and genuflection

His word no longer tastes like honey, but sawdust. His presence feels foreboding, rather than reassuring.

Why does this happen? 

We forget that God’s nature is not like ours.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. {John 15:13}

Our inability to pay back our debt; our total reliance on His provision, direction and wisdom can result in fear when we twist it with the knowledge of human nature.

Man would demand something for such a gift. If nothing else, we humans want to be recognized for our good deeds and to make sure that the recipients of those good deeds never forget what we’ve done for them.

God gives that gift freely.

Because if we could earn it, it loses all its value.

It is a gift of God, freely given, so that no man may boast.

What can we do?

Say thank you. When my children receive a gift, my constant chant is, “What do you say?

Gratitude.

It’s the one weapon I’ve discovered that is able to combat entitlement and resentment. It can restore us to a place of wonder and awe at the daily provision of God.

To an awareness of the nourishment, guidance, refuge and strength to be found in Him as we travel through the wilderness.

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P.S. I Love You

Expectations can kill relationships. An unspoken bar is set; a vision of what perfection entails becomes what must be. When Josh and I were in our pre-marital counseling, one of the exercises we participated in was systematically laying out those expectations we held as we entered into marriage.

Who would do what around the house?

How would we treat each other during a fight?

What would love look like?

Despite all of the talk about Meyers-Briggs results, love languages and family history, there was still something messy and complicated about two individuals coming together. Preparation is necessary, but incomplete. As much as we try, life cannot be scheduled and perfectly planned.

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As we enter into this final week of our 21-day fast, I find it appropriate that today is Valentines Day. A day for love. When we sacrifice, voluntarily go without, it becomes difficult to not grow distracted by our very sacrifices. To forget the reason behind the sacrifice. Rather we think:

Look what I’m leaving behind. See how I’ve worked for you. I will show you my love and devotion through my actions.

Expectations then come into play; reciprocation becomes the name of the game. God, you must show up in the way I need because of what I’ve done for You.

When really, it’s all about love. Drawing near to the One whose love for us can not be measured, contained or broken. Setting aside the checks and balances that try to keep everything even.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. {John 15:13}

Hasn’t He really made the bigger sacrifice? Can anything we do compare? Isn’t it all praise from this point forward?

We love because He first loved us. {1 John 4:19}

This weekend I allowed myself to be caught up in a tornado of ingratitude. My mind spun out of control, focusing on those things I felt deprived of. Rather than abiding in the perfect will of my Father, I wrestled and fidgeted in it. The focus became the sacrifice and not the love behind it. This morning as I woke, I felt like the auto-focus had righted the picture. Once again to know God was the goal:

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… {Philippians 3:7-8}

As this week progresses, my desire is to be less focused on the sacrifice;

to set aside my expectations for what God will do, and instead listen to the love story He would tell.

Have your expectations for God gotten in the way of what He’s doing?

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Thank God, life is hard.

Throughout Scripture there is reference after reference to rejoicing in persecution, exulting in our tribulations and finding joy in our trials.

Never have I heard of a person actually doing this.

When the pastor opens up the service to a time of thanksgiving, people in the crowd lift up their voices to worship God for their salvation, provision, family, and more.

I don’t recall anyone ever saying:

Thank you God that life is hard right now.

A few days ago, I posted the words to “Blessed Be His Name” by Matt Redman. This song is a powerful reminder that in times of trial, as well as in times of ease, we are to bless the name of the Lord. Worship songs abound with lyrics proclaiming God’s goodness in spite of our present difficulties.

But we’re called to rejoice in our tribulations:

“Thank You, Lord, for the persecution I receive as a Christian in my workplace, allowing me to be a light in the darkness for You.”

“Praise Your name, God, for my illness, which is building character in me.”

“Bless You, Father, for the postponement of my heart’s desire. I am learning to persevere.”

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

I’ve never heard this from anyone who is in the midst of a difficult time. However, I have experienced it first-hand after I’ve come through the purifying crucible fire. It is then that I recognize that what I would have spared myself from, actually produced growth, maturity and a deepening of my faith.

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As they approached the furnace, I bet Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not eagerly anticipating the fire. As the sweat began pouring down their faces and the men delivering them to the blaze died around them, I bet their hearts beat a little faster. However, while they were in the midst of it, as Nebuchadnezzar peered through the flames at them, they were walking with Jesus.

Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the midst of the fire. The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them. Daniel 3:26b-27, emphasis mine

So, thank you, God, for the things in my life that are hard.

I praise You and trust that You know better than I. I am grateful to You that I can walk through those times, knowing that the fire can have no effect on me, other than the effects You intend for my good.

What has God walked you through, that was painful at the time, but you rejoice in now?

Or, in general, what things are you grateful for today?

**Today I’m taking part in the One Word @ A Time Blog Carnival on Gratitude, hosted by Bridget Chumbley. Come on over and take a peek at what others are grateful for!