I would not have made a very good Israelite in the days of Manna. You remember those right? The nation of Israel had recently exited from Egypt under the strong arm of the Lord and had left the Egyptians in complete disarray. The victorious nation with heads held high would soon war with the nations of the promised land and live in a land full of milk and honey or said another way- a land so blessed that they would have everything they needed and more. The plentiful vision of the land to which they were heading set up an expectation that would come to haunt them for the next 40 years or so. As you probably know they would receive the Law of God in the middle of a Golden-Calf revolt. Then they would “chicken out” at the border of the Promised Land at Kadesh Barnea. Because of their lack of faith, they would spend the next 40 years wandering through the wilderness. How disappointing!
With visions of “milk and honey” dancing through their heads they would settle into a harsh reality of daily bread or should we say daily manna. This heavenly delicacy would be rained down from on high for 4 decades to take care of their need for food. No low-carb diet for these guys! But the hard part of this gig (beside the lack of variety) is the shelf life of the provision. Manna only lasted 24 hours except for the day before the Sabbath when it lasted 48 hours.
I was in the restaurant business for 10 years and our group was committed to serving fresh products. Practically, that means that you figure out how long a product would last after preparation before it went bad. This is what we call shelf life. There is nothing worse than eating food after it has gone bad. Even in the grocery store we see the concept of shelf life. The label says buy bread before a specific date. Or milk before it goes bad. There are some things in the store loaded with preservatives that make them last a very, very long time with 4 and 5 syllable ingredients to preserve them. But the fresher the ingredients used the fresher the product and shorter the shelf life.
While we all like the idea of fresh bread we have to acknowledge that the idea of being so dependent as to not have a cupboard full is a little disheartening and that is what the Israelites were dealing with. Every day they had to get up and collect what they needed for that day and that day alone. Each night they had to wrestle through their emotions of whether God would provide the Manna the next day. In our day of supermarkets and an advanced food supply, we view their plight as a curse (and to some degree it was) but maybe there was a secret blessing in the process. Each and every day they saw God intervene on their behalf. Each and every night they went to bed with the consolation that God had sustained them another day. God could be trusted and had proved it again.
What would that be worth to you and me? Knowing that God could be trusted. Knowing that He had proved it again. Knowing that He was intervening daily on our behalf.
I joke that I would not make a very good Israelite with the manna experience, but if I am transparent I don’t make a very good Christian when it comes to the daily bread experience.
Our day is not much different than theirs. In fact, one of the key realities of the American culture is that a large portion of our population live paycheck to paycheck. Some researchers say as many as 70% live paycheck to paycheck. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
In a retirement focused culture that wants to store up a mass of wealth to be used in the future, we assume that living in this manner is a bad thing. And to be sure, if this lifestyle of paycheck to paycheck is achieved through glut, waste and mismanagement then that needs to be addressed. But the purpose of this discussion is not to focus on money management techniques but rather on the gratitude component of seeing God’s regular provision for us.
Jesus was asked by His disciples to teach them how to pray, so He did. He talked about treating God as holy in our prayer. He talked about longing for God’s will to be done on earth like it was done in heaven in our prayer. He talked about asking and granting forgiveness in our prayer. He talked about asking for protection from temptation and evil in our prayer. He talked about ascribing praise to the One to whom possesses glory and honor and power and manages a kingdom that will last forever.
But one of the more interesting parts of the prayer for our discussion today is the concept of daily bread. He instructs them to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”. We have sped our way through that part of the prayer so much that we gloss over the fact that it is God who provides even the meat we eat and the bread we are fed on a daily basis. Do you realize that your next breath or even your next meal is not promised but is something that Jesus Himself says that we should pray about. I joke that I would not make a very good Israelite with the manna experience, but if I am transparent I don’t make a very good Christian when it comes to the daily bread experience. Tightness in the food supply makes me a little nervous. Having to be dependent on outside sources for daily bread makes me a little tense. And trusting God in these times is a little nerve-wracking. Unfortunately, I am right there with my Jewish friends in complaining about God’s provision of daily bread.
Anyone who has lost a job un-expectantly, or has had to work through a financial crisis is aware of the fact that our meal provision is a little more daily than we think. For the next few blog posts we are going to be looking at some of the blessings of daily bread. Some of the results that come from being more connected with our True Food Supply. Are there insights to be gained from living a more day-to-day experience with God. I think there is and we are going to highlight some of these.
Just to give a little preview. There is a little acrostic we are going to work through that describes some of the hidden blessings of living paycheck to paycheck and from meal to meal. It conveniently spells the word BREAD. Daily bread living leads to
B- Biblical Insight
R- Relational Alignment
E- Expectations Altered
A- Attitude Adjusted
D- Discipline Required
I hope you will journey with me into a world that we may not be as familiar with. The world of daily bread. The world that has some hidden gems of blessing that we may not be aware of. Check back soon as we answer the question- Should I be happy about living dependent for my very next meal?
Tim Howington is Executive Vice President for Freedom 5:one and is one of our Financial Life Coaches. He lives with his wife Terri and son Josh in Rogers Arkansas.