By Bethany Turner
A few days ago, my son asked, “Is there still manna?”
I said, “What do you mean? It’s not manufactured, if that’s what you’re asking…”
“Well, no,” he laughed. “I didn’t mean like at Manna-R-Us, or something.” (He’s eleven, and a little too smart and witty—and sarcastic—for his own good, sometimes.) “I mean is there any left?”
Finally understanding, I reminded him that when God delivered manna to the Israelites, they were told to take only what they needed for the day. If they took more than they needed, it would spoil.
“So, no,” I concluded. “I don’t believe there is any manna hidden away somewhere in a refrigerator in Israel.” (Okay…I suppose he comes by his sarcastic nature honestly.)
I’ve been thinking about manna ever since. And as I often do when I think about manna, I found myself passing judgment on the Israelites. I mean, c’mon, people! What did God have to do in order to get you to finally believe that he was with you and watching over you?
“Okay, I know God went to the trouble of causing all those plagues for the Egyptians, and I know he had us do that whole ‘passover’ thing, but I’m just not sure where he stands. Is he really on our side?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah…he let us walk across the Red Sea on dry land, but how do we know he’s really invested?”
And, yes. Manna. “I know God’s providing exactly what we need, exactly when we need it, but good grief! I’m so tired of eating manna! Just one day, can’t we come out and find a nice pastrami on rye in front of our tents?”
It is so easy to pass judgment on the Israelites who experienced all of that, and still doubted and complained. After all, if God provided for me, that way, I would certainly never doubt him again.
And yet here I find myself…again. Starting a new book, pretty certain that getting a book published once was a fluke. As each moment passes and I don’t effortlessly fill the page with God’s eternal truth in romantic comedy form, I just doubt that the Lord is really invested in my journey as an author. I’m just not sure where he stands.
I spend so much time thinking about the unknown future that I lose sight of all God has done in the past. I desperately pick up every bit of manuscript manna I can find, fearful that if I don’t store up today, I may starve tomorrow. But I forget that what he wants is for me to rely on him today…and then rely on him again tomorrow.
And that is our great privilege as Christ-followers who write. Think about it. God gave specific instructions for the building of the ark, and for how to march around Jericho, and how to construct the temple. He could have instructed the Israelites how to store up the manna if he’d wanted to. But God knew that it wasn’t just about making sure they were fed. It was about faith. It was about obedience. It was about dependence on the Lord.
So it is with our writing.
Sure, we could hammer out a Manuscripts-R-Us story, or pull old, spoiled ideas from the refrigerator. But that’s not what God has in mind for us. He wants us to come before him and create anew with him and take what he gives and leave what is not meant for us, each time we sit down to write.
So let’s not be like the Israelites. Instead, let’s greet each day with a prayer of thanks for the manna the Lord provides, and end it in humble anticipation of the manna he’ll provide tomorrow.
Bethany Turner is the author of the just-released novel, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, published by Revell. She writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight. Connect with her at www.seebethanywrite.com or www.facebook.com/seebethanywrite, and on Instagram and Twitter @seebethanywrite.
Bethany, I was so blessed by your post! Thank you for writing it.
This sentence especially touched me: “He wants us to come before him and create anew with him and take what he gives and leave what is not meant for us, each time we sit down to write.” So true! We are, indeed, co-laborers with Christ.
Thanks to your inspiring post, from now on I will think of each manuscript I write as a “mannascript.” . What a beautiful image of total reliance on our Lord as we write for Him!
Thank you again. Your post is definitely a keeper!
MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA
Author & Writing Coach
Heart-Mending Stories for the Young and
Your son had a valid question. In fact, some manna was kept in perpetuity. See Exodus 16:32-34. I appreciate your wisdom of trusting God in the daily moment, but you might want to point this scripture out to him. It could be a new teachable moment about memorials and using tangible objects to remind us of what God has done in the past.