A difficult first week of work in a new place prompted what may rightly be called a barrage of emails between me and my long-suffering (a vastly more accurate word than just patient), compassionate, no nonsense therapist. (Yes, I am in therapy. Best decision I have made in a while.) When I quipped that I was pretty sure an hour would not be enough for our upcoming session, she sent this characteristically beautifully succinct and sweet reply,” We will do our best and trust that it can be enough (the word manna comes to mind!).”
In the deepest, truest part of me I knew that the Holy Spirit was hovering over this response even as He was at creation. So I should have been on tiptoes waiting for the “Let there be…” moment asking the Lord the two questions I know to ask, “What does this mean and what must I do?” (Thanks Graham Cooke.) Instead I was a bit offended that she had not offered me more time or done a bit more to help me deal with how overwhelming everything seemed. Let’s face it, the sense of entitlement that gets on my nerves when I see it my students? I have it in spades! I can be a selfish arrogant ass. (Ask my therapist. Kind of glad that HIPPA would keep her from giving you the straight scoop.)
A few days after this response a young colleague, the father of my godson, in the midst of the same difficult transition as I along with the added stress of a new baby (Can you say sleep deprived?) said these words. “Christ in me the hope of glory. He is enough so I have enough.”
This time it was more than a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit it was a two by four upside the head. “Enough.” “All of you is more than enough for all of me.”( Thanks Chris Tomlin) I have sung it many times. I have even been moved to tears by it but truthfully I have never really believed it. My sense of entitlement, that “Lord, I have given up everything to follow you and still I don’t have x, y,and z …that ugly cynicism that can make me sarcastic and occasionally hilarious was in my way.
Who will you be when you don’t get your own way? When your prayers don’t get answered? When your life at 60 isn’t at all what you expected or hoped it would be? Holy Spirit began to show me how all these months of angst and pain really boiled down to will I trust Him to be enough? Can I quit hustling and grabbing and trying to earn and just stand with open hands and upraised face and receive what He delights in giving? And will I trust that what He gives is enough?
Graham Cooke says that poverty is “an acceptance of meager possibilities”. I had lived long in the wilderness of meager possibilities. But oh the prophetic promise that breaks through into wilderness seasons. “Therefore, I will allure her into the wilderness and there I will speak tenderly to her…” writes the prophet Hosea.
Turns out that even when the wilderness is one of your making the Lord speaks tenderly. Into the wilderness of meager possibility came the tender words of a Good, Good Father spoken through those younger and wiser than I. “He is enough, so I have enough.: “We will do our best and trust that it can be enough. (The word manna comes to mind.)” There IS manna in the wilderness, miraculous provision that is not the result of my striving and that comes despite my grumbling. Each day I must gather all that the Lord has provided. Manna doesn’t get in my basket by accident or by whining but by my recognizing and gratefully picking up the nourishing if puzzling food Papa provides.
The Israelites looked at their own miraculous, wilderness provision and said “What is it?” In Hebrew that sounds a lot like “manna” I too am guilty of not recognizing His provision when it comes because it doesn’t look like what I wanted or expected. I am learning, though, that it is always well and truly enough.
Tonight at Celebrate Recovery, (Yes, I am attending a 12 step group in an effort to deal with my hurts, hang-ups and habits.) I had a picture of myself in one of those game show booths that they blow money into. You can keep whatever you can grab in a pre-set amount of time. This is how I lived in the wilderness. I did not grab for material things necessarily but for relationships and attention and affirmation and love. A poverty mindset makes one jealous and greedy and amounts to unbelief. We don’t really trust His heart to bless us. “Stand still and open your hands,” says the Lord. “Eat your fill from the abundance of my house and drink from the river of my delights. Have a Psalm 36 mentality, a manna mentality.” When I try to grab for more, do more, be more I am a bit like those Israelites who thought they needed to save just a little manna, perhaps take just a little more than they needed. Things got rotten really fast.
Jesus understood the manna mentality. I love Matthew 6 in The Message, “What I am trying to do here is get you to relax, to not be so pre-occupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now.”
Molly says” I am so pumped about how the manna imagery is lingering with you because it is such a simple idea - provision - and it takes a while for us to unlearn our "scarcity" mentality but you're SO on that path!”
So here I am enjoying the learning of these wilderness days. Gathering manna and learning gratitude. Living one day at a time and trying to give my entire attention to what God is doing right now. It is well and truly enough. I am so grateful not just for Molly but for so many companions on the journey who help me gather miraculous manna and remind me that He is enough.
“We will do our best and trust that it can be enough. (The word manna comes to mind.)”
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!