Manna

It may be impossible to think of manna without thinking of the story in Exodus of God providing daily provision to the Israelites in the wilderness. Manna was that strange substance that fed them and all they had to do was pick it up off the ground. But each person had a daily portion, to be gathered on the day of its use. The only day of the week they could gather a double portion without the oversupply “going bad” was in preparation for the Sabbath.

I have come to think of “everyday spirituality” as a kind of manna. It seems to be part of our human nature that life works best for us when we renew our spiritual provisions every day. We are best served, best fed, by pursuing on an everyday basis the spiritual practices that keep us in touch with the Divine. Skipping days works only to our own detriment. The gathering is easy because we are offered a wide range of spiritual practices, and the blessings that come as a result are renewed for us every day. And unlike the Israelites, we are free to gather as much as we want. There are no limits to this daily provision.

           

Moses – When Courage Fails the Strong

I noticed something in Acts the other day that fascinated me. It was a description: “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action” (Acts 7:22).

I had to stop and look at that again, because what I remembered about Moses was that when God told him he was to go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses repeatedly objected, stating, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10).

Now, admittedly a lot happened to Moses between the time when he was educated in Egypt as a young man and decades later at the scene of the burning bush, but it’s likely that a lot happens to all of us between the time we are young and being educated, and the time we may be called to put that education to use.

What I find here is a message to the “educated,” to people who have gifts they have never used because they are fearful that when it comes right down to it, they will fail.

The Exodus story in chapters 3 and 4 recounts a little divine impatience with Moses, who has been chosen for a particular role, but it is God who delivers the solution: “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (Exodus 4:12). Even then Moses continues to protest and to ask that God send someone else, so God creates a further solution: Moses’s older brother, Aaron. You can hear the exasperation in God’s comment: “I know he can speak well.” So that is how the story goes. The two brothers go before Pharaoh; God tells Moses what to say; and Aaron delivers the message.

We’ve all heard stories about how God helps the poor, the weak, the downtrodden, but this is a story about God helping the strong and the educated who are suffering a failure of courage. This is a promise to store in your heart for those times when your confidence and courage fail: Go to your spiritual center and hear the divine message, “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”