I made assumptions at the beginning of summer that with each passing week, COVID numbers would continue to go down and reentry would gain momentum until we attained normalcy. But as I watch the number of cases increase each day and hear of friends coming down with the dreaded virus, I’m reminded how dangerous assumptions can be. And how flexible I need to remain. Now I’m back to my careful ways, pulling on masks (which I had begun to wear less often), lathering on the hand sanitizer.
And I’m not happy about it.
My own grumbling reminds me of the Israelites when they trudged through the desert as recent (reverse) refugees from a lifetime of slavery in Egypt. They were hot. And hungry. But, God heard their cries and answered their prayers — with manna.
Manna, a heavenly bread that miraculously appeared each morning like the dew, met the needs of every Hebrew sojourner. God provided enough food for each day, yet He required every person to leave their tents to gather their own celestial crumbs. The bread didn’t appear on their plates, even though we know that was possible (hello, feeding of the 5,000). The manna didn’t show up in barrels that lasted for months.
Rather, it was a daily practice — a practice of trust that God would provide.
Grace works the same way. God makes it available to us everyday, but we have to move toward Him with open hands to receive our portion. We have to be willing to accept what He offers then take it in. Like eating manna, grace is meant to nourish us from the inside out so that no matter what the day holds, it’s enough to sustain us.
Comparing manna to grace was not my idea. I remember Beth Moore teaching that concept in one of her Bible studies years ago. She taught that God’s grace is present for us each day, like manna, and is always in proportion to our needs. Beth’s example — her friend who’d lost a child needed bushels of grace compared to her bowlful. Our lesson was to learn to trust God to give us grace in the amount we needed, no matter the circumstance. In other words, we don’t have to fear how we’ll survive tragedy or make it through tomorrow. Instead, we can trust God’s provision today — perfectly proportioned.
Knowing where we are emotionally and spiritually helps us acknowledge our need for grace. It also enables us to become willing recipients. For instance, I’m discovering as the heat goes up and the air quality goes down that my lungs are still not fully recovered from my bout with COVID in February. I desire more energy and labor-free breathing so that I can get out there with all the friends and family who are re-entering life, so my discouragement can easily lead to despair. Except grace. It’s a beautiful thing to worship God with my honest laments and hopeful cries for healing because as I surrender to Him, His grace washes through me with renewed conviction to remain on the path and wait for His perfect timing.
His grace has been enough.
And when He blessed me with a whole week of happy lungs when it counted most, I praised Him most fervently.
His grace was abundant and appreciated.
And when the hated haze in the sky rolled back in the very next week, I puffed in my meds and thanked Him for all the ways His grace manifests.
His grace is still enough.
How about you? Where do you find yourself this week of our Summer of Reentry? Impatient? Excited? Discouraged? Fearful? Content? Overwhelmed? When we acknowledge our feelings and take them to God, we can more freely receive His grace.
Manna For Us
Jesus mentioned manna in one of his sermons, reminding those listening that it was God who provided the manna. Then He spoke one of His paradigm-shifting shockers that left His audience scratching their heads:
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”John 6:32-35
Jesus is the manna. He is the bread that gives life to the world.
We look to Him for every need and grab hold of the nourishing goodness He offers.
We cry out to Him when our hearts are broken and welcome the warmth of His life and healing in us.
We pause in our busyness to recognize our spiritual emptiness and receive the fullness He gives.
We open our mouths while in the desert of our souls to drink in His refreshment that satisfies.
We lay down our selfish desires for “more” in exchange for His offerings that are always enough.
Jesus. He is our bread of life.
Wisdom — A Gift of Grace
Moses turned to God with the cries of the people because he needed heavenly help to determine a way to meet needs and move forward. He sought God’s wisdom. Instead of stubbornly or pridefully trying to feed the people himself, He kneeled before the One True God. And asked for wisdom.
In our own season of moving out of the enslavement this pandemic has wrought on us, we can take a page out of Moses’ book to lay down our urges of doing things our way. We can trust Jesus to show us the way forward.
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.”James 1:5-6, NLT
When we leave our tents of grief or impatience or despair to seek God’s wisdom, we’ll discover a generous Father who extends His hand, freely offering us what we need most. He intentionally shares His thoughts, His love, and His grace with us. And when we receive with hearts full of faith — even the size of a mustard seed — He bestows on us the wisdom we seek.
Wisdom and Grace
I’ve mentioned to you how much God speaks and ministers to me through music. Melodies, rhythms, and lyrics awaken me to His presence and purposes. During Sunday worship this week, a song from my recent past played, and pre-pandemic memories flooded in. I remembered how I’d been soaked in the Spirit of God as I worshiped corporately.
As I sang along from my couch this week, one particular stanza leapt out at me like never before:
I know You love meHillsong, “As It Is in Heaven”
I know You found me
I know You saved me
And Your grace will never fail me
God’s grace never fails me. Never fails you. We just have to trust Him enough to take what He offers, allowing His grace and wisdom to do their work in us.
Recognizing our assumptions, our frustrations, and our brokenness for what they are allows us to step toward God with humility and reverence, opening ourselves to accept the wisdom and grace God has for us. But holding those things too tightly can keep us stuck, enslaved — unable to heal or love or grow. So, in our Summer of Reentry, we can release the death-grip we have on our hearts to become open vessels for God’s grace and wisdom to pour in. His grace, like manna, is always enough.
- In your journal this week list, doodle, draw, or write about what you think about grace as manna. What’s your grace-need awareness like? Ask God to make you open to the grace He wants to give you then receive it — with the grace it is given. Secondly, list, doodle, draw, or write about wisdom as a gift of grace. What wisdom do you crave? What wisdom could God be trying to convey to you for this season?
- #Spreadjoy this week by surprising a neighbor with a sweet treat or an act of kindness. The sweet treat could be baked or bought. The act of kindness could be picking up their newspaper for them, pulling in their garbage can, or offering a simple hello with a wave and a smile! Let them know they’re seen and loved.
- I’ve been sharing our Reentry Playlist, all summer. I’ve also been building a Grace for the Journey Playlist, full of songs that remind of us, first, of the grace we were given when we stepped into relationship with our Savior and, second, of the grace we need on a daily basis. The song I mentioned today, “As In Heaven,” is the last song on the playlist.
- We will meet back here in two weeks! Don’t forget to #SpreadJoy.