What Manna Looks Like

Six years ago today I saw my first positive pregnancy test. I couldn’t stop smiling. I spent the day looking at nursery decorations and planning how to tell our families the good news. We had waited years for that positive pregnancy test. We had prayed for that positive test. We had expected that positive test. It was finally happening and I wanted to dance in the streets! The wait was over!

Six years and one week from today, I lost our first baby. (More of that story can be found here – The God of the 1%). Before we could really let “I’m pregnant” sink in, we were thrown back into waiting in the worst way.

A few days ago, I was taking a walk and thinking about this anniversary. I was thinking of all that has happened in our wait to be parents, but especially in the last six years. As I thought, my mind wondered to a memory from when I was young. My parents and I were out and I found a baby doll I had to have. The doll had a porcelain head and hands, but the body was filled with beads. The doll felt like a real baby when you held it. The head had to be supported like a newborn’s and the body was weighted to feel real.

I am an only child and, it’s no secret, I was very spoiled. So I first asked nicely for the doll. When that didn’t work, I quickly began begging my parents for the doll, and was so frustrated when they wouldn’t buy it for me right that moment. My parents explained the doll was very expensive and if I wanted the doll I would need to save my money. So, after a short time of pouting, I started to ask what I could do around the house to save money.

My parents gave me chores and I quickly started saving money. I worked so hard, even when I didn’t want to, because I wanted that doll. I remember every time my parents paid me they would teach me the importance of tithing. I’d have to set aside 10% of whatever they paid me to give back to Jesus. I also remember counting the money saved over and over again and then calculating how far I was from my goal. So many lessons were learned during that time. Working hard, tithing and counting money wasn’t something I had ever really had to face before the desire for that doll.

One day, I finally had a little over half the money saved, and my parents surprised me by taking me to get the doll. I remember them telling me I had worked hard and they wanted to reward me for that hard work. While I no longer have that doll, it is still one of my favorite toys from my childhood. I loved it and for a long time and it went everywhere I went. I had worked so hard for that doll and I think the pride from working hard made owning it more special.

Years later, my parents told me it was hard not to get the doll for me the first day that I wanted it. They loved me and (lets be honest) they spoiled me, and they wanted me to be happy. However, they decided it would be better for me (and their pocket book) to wait. So they encouraged me to save my money, however all along they had planned to get me the doll for Christmas no matter what I had saved. When they saw how hard I was working, they decided to get the doll earlier for me as a reward.

When my parents gave me this insight into their side of the story, I was pretty annoyed. If they always wanted to give me the baby, why did they make me wait? (See, I told you, I am spoiled!) However, after thinking it through, waiting for that doll was always in my best interest. Not only had I worked so hard, but I learned such big life lessons during my wait for that doll. The doll was more special because I had to wait.

As I walked the path, and thought of this story from my childhood, I felt myself get a little defeated. Once again, I am waiting for a baby. It’s a recurring theme! This time, I have spent literally years dreaming and waiting for that baby. Just like my first wait for a baby I have learned huge life lessons during this wait.

First, I don’t have to beg God for a baby. The Bible tells us over and over again that I am a a child of God (Romans 8:16, Romans 9:26, 2 Corinthians 6:18, Galatians 3:26, 1 John 3:1 are just a few scriptures that talk about us being children of God.). We aren’t just children of God, we are His heirs. (Galatians 4:6-7) The Father choose me and calls me part of His royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). He Has given me authority over the enemy (Luke 10:19). Because of my place in His kingdom, I don’t have to beg God for anything. In fact, He wants me to come to Him with boldness.  (Hebrews 10:19, 2 Corinthians 3:11-12)

Second, my Father loves me deeply. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:35-39, 1 John 3:1 are just a few scriptures that talk about His love for us). He fully knows me (Psalm 139: 1-5, Jeremiah 1:5). His love for me is reckless. He’d leave the ninety-nine just to find me. (Luke 15:3-7) He rejoices over me and sings over me. (Zephaniah 3:17). He has a plan for me that is for my good (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28) Unlike when I was young, I don’t have to save up my “money” for the baby I desire. I don’t have to strive and impress God. He has started a good work in me, and He will finish it. (Philippians 1:6)

Third, I am fruitful. I didn’t miss God’s voice. Our home will be filled with babies. There are several promises of fruitfulness in the Old Testament (Genesis 1:28, Exodus 23:26, Deuteronomy 7:14) however those promises are not exclusive to those under the Old Covenant. When God made promises with Abraham He said the promise was for Abraham and for all the generations to come. (Genesis 17:7). The Bible says that if we belong to Christ, we are Abraham’s heir. (Galatians 3:29). Not only am I an heir to all the promises given to Abraham, when Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected He paid the price for all sickness and disease – including infertility. Babies are part of His plan for me!

Let me be clear, my parents choose to make me wait for a baby doll to teach me valuable life lessons, however that’s not why I am waiting for a baby now. God isn’t requiring that I wait for a baby so that He can teach me these lessons. In fact, God’s perfect plan was always for me to be fruitful, however when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge sin came into the world and destroyed God’s perfect plan leaving the world broken. Now there are barren places in all of our lives because of the broken world we live in.  However, God doesn’t waste anything. He is using every last piece of this wait to glorify Him. (Nothing is Wasted)

Even though I know all of this truth intellectually, as my feet pounded the pavement, I felt my heart say “I can’t do this anymore”.  This journey has been long. This past year has felt extra stormy, and my heart feels worn out from the constant rain. So what now?

As I walked, I kept thinking about Isaiah 40:31. This verse says this in the NIV translation:

“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

It’s so funny that this verse hit me as I was literally walking a path. In the natural it is impossible to run without growing weary. However, the Bible literally promises that when we put our hope in the Lord (several translations say when we wait on the Lord) He will renew our strength. When we have renewed strength, we can spiritually run and not grow spiritually weary. Again, I know this truth intellectually, but what does it really mean to put this truth to action?

I am not the first person to feel like I can’t do it anymore. In fact, the Israelites literally spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness complaining about how they couldn’t do it anymore before they were finally able to enter the promised  land. Here’s the thing, even though the Israelites felt like they were sinking, God provided for them in huge ways while they were in the wilderness!

In Exodus 16, the Bible says God provided manna for the Israelites to eat each morning. The manna would miraculously appear each day. The Israelites were told to collect enough manna each day for that day alone, and only as much as could be eaten in one day. If a person tried to collect more than needed or to store the manna for future needs it would spoil.

I have read about the manna God provided the Israelites at least 100 times, but it wasn’t until I was in my own desert that I realized just how much of a blessing that manna truly was. The Israelites had to fully trust that God would sustain them. The manna wouldn’t last more than one day. They had to believe that God would take care of what they needed tomorrow. At first glance, the planner in me feels like gathering just enough manna for one day would be overwhelming. What if there wasn’t enough manna tomorrow?

God is still providing manna for us today. In fact, the Bible promises that He will provide for all our needs (Philippians 4:19-20). He tells us not to worry because He is handling our tomorrow’s (Matthew 6:34). But what does manna look like today?

I have thought about this a lot since my walk. Jesus said He is the bread of life (John 6:35), and I have realized during this season more than ever I have to be in the word every day. Just as we must eat physical food every day to live full lives, I have to be in the word every day. Just as the Israelites could not be sustained on yesterday’s manna, I cannot be sustained on yesterdays revelation. Suddenly Lamentations 3:22-23 makes way more sense. It says this in the NIV translation:

“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.”

When my heart told the Father I couldn’t do it anymore, He reminded me that I couldn’t ever do this without Him. I need Him to sustain me. I don’t know how much longer we will wait for a baby, but I do know that I can’t do another step without His provision. Friends, I am not suggesting that reading my bible every day will magically make all my problems go away. The reality is that I am still waiting and there are still hard days. However, I can continue to wait because He provides what I need daily not to just survive the day but actually thrive!

When I have spent time with the Father, I am tuned in to seeing Him show up. I think God provides small “snacks” through the day if we are watching. A song on the radio, an encouraging word from a friend or any number of “God-winks” are special and encouraging, but they can’t compare to actual time spent with the Father. Snacks were never intended for us to live on, they were always intended to get us to our next full meal. We have to open our bibles and set aside time with our Father. It’s how we continue to run and not grow weary.

Today, we are still waiting for a positive pregnancy test. We are still praying for that positive test. We are still expecting that positive test, but I am not defeated anymore. I have all the tools I need to keep running without growing weary, I simply need to eat my daily manna.

Friends, maybe you aren’t waiting for a miracle baby, but I am sure there is something you are waiting for. Maybe it’s a house or a dream job. Maybe you have been praying for a spouse. Maybe you are believing for healing in your body or the salvation of a friend or family member. Whatever it is, I am certain as you are reading this, something you are waiting for is popping into your mind. While you wait, I want to encourage you to collect your daily manna, it changes everything.

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