the problem with manna
I’m currently in Germany staying at a place called The Art Factory. Several years ago, an American couple bought an old tile factory in Kandern (in the southwest corner of Germany near the Black Forest), and they’re converting the space into flats and studios where artists can come to rest, enjoy community, and create art.
Every night when we sit down to dinner, Mary Beth and Rick (the owners) tell amazing stories of how God’s provided for them in crazy ways. From having the dream to create a place like this, to discovering the property, to deciding to buy it, to receiving just the amount of money they needed at just the right time….it’s been a pretty incredible adventure.
Yesterday morning at breakfast, Mary Beth told me even more stories of how God has provided for them. And she told me of how relevant The Lord’s Prayer seems at times, especially the line, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
The Art Factory reminds me of stories I heard of George Mueller when I was a little girl. He was a man in England who decided to start an orphanage in the 1800’s because he had a heart for kids who lived on the street.
He had very little in terms of resources, but he had an enormous amount of faith. He ended up building several orphanages without going into any debt because, at just the right time, someone would mail in a donation for exactly the amount he needed.
One morning the orphans were assembled for breakfast and George led them in a blessing for the meal -- even though there was no food on the table. All the food, and all the money, was gone. But George had prayed that morning, and he knew that God was going to provide.
A second after he finished blessing their non-existent breakfast, there was a knock at the door. A baker came and handed out bread, and a milk truck broke down and the driver asked if he could donate the milk to the orphanage before it spoiled.
I am inspired by George Mueller, and I’m inspired by Mary Beth and Rick. They’re people who live by faith. Not just the idea of having faith, but walking in the actual thing, minute by minute, all through the day.
I really want to live a life filled with stories like that -- stories of putting my faith in a God who always shows up. I want there to be all kinds of eleventh-hour miracles that happen over the course of my life.
I want God to provide for me like he provided for the Israelites by raining down manna every morning.
The problem with manna is that it is only enough for one day.
If the Israelites tried to stockpile it, it spoiled in an instant.
To be honest, I don’t want manna like that. I don’t want to walk by faith in real-time. I don’t want to struggle for peace or pray all night or realize that, if God doesn’t show up, hundreds of orphans are going to starve to death and it’ll be all my fault.
I don’t want to get up every morning and trust that the manna in front of me is all the sustenance I have, and all the bread I need. I want to keep a stash under my pillow. Because what if God forgets to send manna tomorrow morning? Or what if I get hungry in the middle of the night?
I don’t want to pray “God, give me this day my daily bread.” I’d like to have at least a month of frozen bread in the freezer. Just in case.
Or, better yet, I’d like God to give me his bread recipe so I can make a batch whenever I need it. Whenever I want it.
But that’s not what faith is. And without faith, Hebrews says, it’s impossible to please God. Not because God is some kind of tyrant who has arbitrary standards for us, but because having true faith shows that we really understand what God is like.
In order to have faith, we have to know that God is trustworthy. That God is love. That God is always present and knows what we need before we even ask. That God is never late, that God never forgets.
Last month I embarked on a new journey. For the first time in my adult life, I don’t have a steady stream of income. I’ve taken a leave of absence from my job. In addition to doing some writing for my next book project, I’ve been spending lots of time with God, listening to what I’m supposed to write and speak about next.
I realize as I look into my future that it’s pointless to stress about where I’m going to live when I get back to the States. Or how God’s going to provide money for health insurance and car insurance and food. I know that I’m exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I’m meant to do.
I know that I have enough for today.
And when I wake up tomorrow, I’ll have enough for that day, too.
And each day, for the rest of my life, when I wake up in the morning, God will be there. And God is enough.
I think what E.L. Doctorow said about writing is true about the adventure of walking through life with God.
“It’s like driving at night in the fog,” he said. “You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
The Art Factory is a faith-based non-profit that survives through donations. You can learn more about it here.