Friday, February 15, 2013
Manna . . . in the Market
In the last few months I have found a new spiritual discipline, a radical act of trust, bursting with the forgiveness of regular practice, the promise that if I don't get it right this time, next time is right around the corner. And it feels like an excellent way to live into the season of Lent.
Every weekend I head to the grocery, coupons and list in hand, and I try my best to buy just what we need for the week.
It is incredibly hard.
Because it takes discipline to not buy the numerous items it takes to use the super value coupon. Or to add another unnecessary tube of Pringles to get the extra $5 off. Every super-market excursion is another test of my trust. Can I trust God to provide for our immediate needs? Can I trust Him to provide for our needs next week? Can I only gather that which will feed my family for the next seven days, and leave the following weeks to God's future provision?
I remember the story of the Israelites in the desert. God's instructions to them were to step outside and gather nourishment for the day. Not for the week ahead. Not for the month. The extra was to be left. Because for every day that they needed heaven's provision, it would be waiting for them in the morning dew. But to gather more than that was to gather rot into their tents.
How often have I gathered rot into my home because I could not trust God's provision for tomorrow to be as sufficient as today's? Truth told, I gather more because I am putting my trust not in God's goodness and faithful steadfastness, but in my own ability to provide, to gather unto myself more than enough to cover all possible scenarios, to gourge my pantry with stuff so that I feel better. In the gourging I'm finding that I lose touch with my real needs. When I stuff and over stuff that cart, and then bring it all home, I never feel or see or touch the place where my need meets God's ready provision.
Why bother? Why care about something so trivial? This is not covered in The Ten Commandments, and Jesus did not give instructions for grocery shopping. But there has been that nudge in my spirit for this particular season of my life. Not for last season, maybe not even for the next season. But definitely for this season. I don't believe this is a mandate to be generalized. Instead it comes as a personal call, an invitation from my Heavenly Father, to live into our relationship of trust in a deeper way. A practical, rubber hits the road, pennies in the pocket kind of way. It is deeply personal. It makes me look at what I really need. And gives me the opportunity to really appreciate what I already have.
And maybe that is the thing God has been asking me to see all along. When I'm just concerned with getting, getting, getting, I forget to look around at what I already have. I forget to appreciate it. I forget to enjoy it. And the extra burgeouning around me dry rots from lack of use. Couldn't somebody else have actually enjoyed the thing I forgot about? The thing that went in my trash can because I forgot it was there and now it isn't good for anything?
The Manna way of Life keeps me close to the Blessing of the Day. That subtle Blessing does not escape my notice because I am so cognizant of not filling my cart too full, taking only what is needed, readily enjoying that which comes to me for this specific time. Because trust isn't only about taking the worry out of whether there will be enough. Trust is even more about resting oneself in the Good Hands of a Provider who delights to give gifts, the kind that are timely, noticed, enjoyed, and savored.