Daily Grace

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. 

Exodus 16:4

When Israel was traveling through the desert, the Lord provided “daily bread” for the people. He called it manna. “…in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor“(Exodus 16:13-14). There was enough for everyone to take as much as they needed for that day, but only for that day. “Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away“(Exodus 16:21). They had to gather in the morning. By the time the sun grew hot, the manna was gone.

I have found this same reality to be true of daily grace, especially during a season of grieving. There is enough grace for this day but only this day.

Each morning when I wake up I feel like an above-ground pool that has no water in it. Without water, an above-ground pool is just a thin piece of metal on the outside and a thin piece of plastic liner on the inside. Flimsy. Yet, when it is filled with water, it feels rock solid. I wake up every morning and spend time with the Lord, and He fills me with His daily provision. He fills me with His Presence, His power, His strength, His grace for that day. I wake up flimsy, but after some time in His Presence, I am filled, I am changed, and I am ready for the day.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24

Every day there are new mercies, new compassions, new manna on which to feed our souls. There is not enough for tomorrow. But there is enough for today. Jesus told his disciples, “…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own“(Matthew 6:34). So true. And God provides enough grace for today.

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever
    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Psalm 61:1-4

Produce of the Land

On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.

Joshua 5:10-12

If we are in a desert season–a season of trial, testing, development and dependency–God will drop manna from heaven. He will bring His provision to us. He will often encounter us despite our pursuit (or lack thereof) of Him.

Yet, when we begin to step into the promises of God for our life, the manna will stop. The expectation from God is that, now that we are in the good land, we will learn to cultivate that which will sustain us. We will eat food that is produced by the land.

This is why some people talk about how close to God they felt when they were going through a hard time, yet when things got better, they lost that intimacy with God. Why would that happen?

Essentially, people expect to live off of manna in the Promised Land. And when the manna stops, they don’t know what to do. Just because the manna stopped doesn’t mean the sustenance has to stop. It doesn’t mean intimacy has to stop. It just means the intimacy that was once pure gift now has to be pursued. It has to be cultivated.

Practically speaking, this means that while God’s presence felt so close during that hard season without you having to do anything, when you step into the promise God has for you, you may have to get up early to spend time with Him. The Presence is still there. The intimacy is still there. But you may have to be more intentional about cultivating time with Him in order to experience it. You may have to engage with God in ways that remind you that you are just as dependent on Him as before, even if the immediate crisis has passed.

People sense that the manna has stopped and think God is now distant. Not true. The manna stopping is an invitation toward cultivation. It is an invitation to maturity. It is an invitation to move beyond desert living and into a life of stewarding God’s provision and promises in your life.

We must learn to live in the desert and in the Promised Land. We have to learn how to do both. The apostle Paul put it this way:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13

Did you feel God so near in a crisis but now it seems as if the manna has stopped? What can you do now to cultivate intimacy with Him? What does it look like for you to eat the produce of the land?