Bread in the Wilderness

Bread PiecesTime limits change things.

When we’re free to complete a task at our leisure, it’s easy to put it off. “I’ll get to it later.” And later. And later…

A day becomes a week, a month, a year. For most of us, setting our own timetable means there’s a good chance of that task never getting done. After all, there’s always “later.” Later is wide open; later will be there when we’re ready.

Manna didn’t work that way.

From the moment it appeared each morning, there was a time limit. Tick tock, tick tock. Get it now; get it while you can. Later was never an option, because when the sun warmed things up, any manna still outside melted like frost (Exodus 16:21).

The obvious solution was to stockpile it—but that didn’t work, either. Any manna that remained in tents overnight bred worms and stank (Exodus 16:20). Completely useless. The only option (for anyone interested in eating, anyway) was to be out there every morning (except the Sabbath), gathering up what you needed for the day. Any other route meant a stinky tent or an empty belly.

But manna was just a lesson, not the main point. It was an illustration of something bigger. Moses explained,

And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

(Deuteronomy 8:2-3)

The Word of God is a precious treasure, and we need it as desperately as the Israelites needed manna. Are we eager to gather what we need each day, or are we content to wait until later?

Later doesn’t always happen. Our Bibles might not dissolve in the noonday heat, but the openings in our schedules have a way of getting more and more crowded. Unless we’re gathering the Word of God with the same urgency the Israelites had while gathering manna, we’re probably not getting what we need out of it.

This is food. This is life. If we wait until we’re starving to gather it up, we might not find what we need in time. You can only go hungry so many days before it catches up with you.

Stockpiling doesn’t work, either. A big meal one day doesn’t make up for an empty plate the rest of the week. There’s only one option: Make God’s word a priority every day. Be as loath to be without it as you would be loath to miss out on a day’s worth of meals. Bread alone isn’t enough—we need and must hunger for the truths contained in the pages of the Bible.

Time limits change things. “Later” is the wrong time to gather spiritual bread. Get it now; get it while you can.

Tick tock, tick tock.

Until next time,

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