Monday, October 13, 2008

Our Daily Bread

Give us today our daily bread.

                        Matthew 6.11

Wonder Bread

Roughly six weeks after the Israelites’ amazing escape from Pharaoh, Exodus 16 finds them lost in the desert without provisions—again. Previously, they ran out of water and blamed Moses. God miraculously purified bitter water for them to drink and off they went. Now they had no food and—again—they grumbled, “Better God should have killed us in Egypt! At least we’d have died with full stomachs instead of starving to death in the middle of nowhere!” With no edible plant or animal in sight, they lost short-term memory of how God satisfied their thirst. Long-term recollection was worse; cramping hunger cleared away decades of enslaved poverty to sketch up fantasies of feasts.

Unlike the water crisis, God didn’t wait for Moses’s request for intervention. He stepped in right away. “Here’s what I’m going to do,” He said. “Each morning, I’ll pour down enough bread for everyone; at twilight, I’ll send all the quail you need so you’ll have meat.” And sure enough, before nightfall the ground was carpeted with quail. In the morning, it was layered with frost-like flakes of bread. The Israelites called the wonder bread “manna,” which means, “What is it?” This phenomenon repeated itself daily for the entire 40 years the Israelites roamed the wilderness. They never groaned or worried with hunger again.

Maximum Daily Requirements

God also corrected their habit of taking His provision for granted. He instructed the people to collect only what they needed for each day. Hoarding in excess of their maximum daily requirements equated to doubting He would provide in the future. Those who tried soon learned God’s blessings contain no chemical preservatives or additives. The overstock spoiled overnight, leaving “better-safe-than-sorry” types to gather each day’s groceries like everyone else.

I’ve been thinking about manna a lot these days, especially when clicking on the financial news. The nose-diving graphics look more like Looney Tunes charts than anything in real life. And when I hear the shock-and-awe analysts use phrases like “unprecedented” and “meltdown,” I wish I could steer them to Exodus 16. Someone needs to tell us, “The manna is spoiling. Our habitual distrust of God’s provision, not the markets, is what’s being corrected.”

Securities and Futures

Jesus stressed, “Tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6.34) That’s not what we’d like hear right now, as our financial condition erodes. But it proves His point. We’ve put far too much faith in bought-and-sold “economic instruments” instead of a God Who provides. And now we’re discovering how unreliable such investments really are. God isn't an inside trader. He doesn’t broker securities, insurance, and futures because He secures everything, never fails, and holds the future. Most definitely, His strategy pays the highest returns on long-term investment. Yet its real asset comes in daily dividends.

Philippians 4.19 assures us, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” If we truly believe that, it’s time to trust it. There’s an implicit fact in “Give us today our daily bread” we shouldn’t forget. We’ll pray this same prayer tomorrow, the day after that, and the day after that. Without fail, it will be answered and manna will fall. It will arrive in proper amounts needed for each day. We can’t afford to let our eyes get bigger than our stomachs. We can’t confuse what we want with what we need. We can’t allow our faith to weaken as we watch each day’s provisions deplete. At the end of the day, we rest in knowing that when tomorrow comes, its needs will be supplied.

Manna spoiling.

(Tomorrow: Forgive Our Debts)


kkryno said...

Okay, silly question(I happen to be quite a literal person.) Does this mean by stocking my freezer and pantry to the gills the last 3 months is frowned upon by God? I hope not, as I have been strangely compelled to do so.

Tim said...

Kkryno, thank you for putting a big smile on my face after a very long day of work and travel! I can't imagine God would frown on your freezer and pantry stock UNLESS you did it because you think He'll no longer provide for you. That's the difference.

We all have tendencies to fill empty spaces--some of us stock pantries and freezers, others of us fill closets, others bookshelves, etc. But why do we do it? If we enjoy these things--even if it's just having them around--then that's not an issue. But if we're hoarding them because we're afraid we won't have what we need tomorrow, if we doubt God's love for us and concern for our daily needs, then there's a problem...

If it gives you great joy to open a full freezer and pantry, don't worry about it. If you're doing it because you're afraid of something you can't control--e.g., the economy, nuclear war, who knows-then it might be something to pray about.

Hope this helps (remember this is my view; not necessarily gospel truth); and thanks so much for the comment--it's great to meet/see you!