My favorite kind of Bible study is to unpack familiar passages of scripture verse by verse and word by word, squeezing out the deepest spiritual meaning I possibly can. These are beloved passages that I’ve long known (since childhood) and for most of my life, rotely recited without considering what the individual words actually mean. Passages such as John 3:16, The Beattitudes (Matthew 53-11), the 23rd Psalm, and The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).
Take The Lord’s Prayer, for example. You’ve no doubt recited it hundreds of times too (see if you can do it without peeking!):
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. (v.9)
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, (v. 10)
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. (v. 11)
And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors, (v. 12)
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (v. 13)
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
This week I’ve been focused on verse 11, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In rereading and studying and picking apart this seemingly straightforward sentence, I was swept back to an Old Testament passage that also speaks of daily bread (bread is a recurring theme throughout scripture; why do you suppose that is? Consider: Jesus was even called the “bread of life”).
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day'” (Exodus 16:4). Yep, there it is: daily bread.
Background: After Yahweh sent Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, through the Red Sea (literally) and out into the wilderness trekking toward the Promised Land (it turned into quite a long hike!), the food supply they’d brought from Egypt wore thin. In fact they ran out of everything. The cupboards were bare.
So they did what you and I would have done: they whined. And complained. And groused.
To which God replied (probably rolling His eyes in the process): “I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel … At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God,” (Exodus 16:12).
So to shut them up, the Almighty sent self-sacrificing quail for dinner, and bread in the form of mysterious manna (the name actually means, “What is it?”) covering the ground each morning. Daily bread. Sustenance to keep them alive.
And He kept sending it for not just one week or a month; not even one year or two, but for FORTY years (Exodus 16:35). Nearly a lifespan in those days!
But the catch was, they would receive only enough daily bread for one day at a time. If they tried to collect more than the Lord saw fit to provide, the manna would rot and grow maggots (Ex. 16:20), or melt (Ex. 16:21). (Hmm. Melt. Reckon there was any chocolate in manna?)
My wonderment for this intentionally limited supply is (as always): Why? Why would Papa God only provide one meal portion at a time? What purpose did it serve? Wouldn’t it have been easier for Him AND them to pile a dump truck load of manna in a field for them to portion out a week’s worth at a time? Seems logical to me. Practical. Efficient.
But Papa God’s goal was not to be logical, practical, or efficient. It was to build TRUST with these whiners so that they would learn dependency on their Deliverer to meet all their needs. To truly take care of them. Because despite His presence and incredible works in their lives already (think: sucking an ocean bed dry!!!), they hadn’t yet learned to trust and obey Him.
It was a hard lesson for them to learn. Just like it’s hard for you and for me today.
Trust. Trust that our Deliverer will deliver us. That He will make a way where there is no way. Again.
As for me, I was sure I had learned that lesson back in 2016 when my publisher talked me into writing my 365-day devotional, Too Blessed to be Stressed: Inspiration for Every Day. I had resisted writing it for two years because I just KNEW I could NEVER come up with 365 different (emphasis on three HUNDRED sixty-five) different topics with 365 different scriptures and 365 different prayers, each squeezed into 300 words or less (every writer knows writing shorter is harder and hey, I can’t even say my name in 300 words or less).
Sure enough, the idea well ran dry somewhere around #250 and my bucket kept coming up empty. Every morning as I was beseeching Papa God (some might call it whining), I reminded Him that I was right all along (no surprise, right?) but now – because I had signed on the dotted contract line thinking I was being led by Him – I had to meet a looming deadline and was in dire need of a Deliverer. ASAP. Could he please send me an outline of my remaining 100+ devos so that I had a working plan? A logical, practical, efficient plan?
For about a week, I got nothing for my grumblings. Squat. Crickets. I surmised Papa God wasn’t into logical, practical, and efficient plans as much as I was.
But I did get an idea. One itsy bitsy little idea. It was a topic I hadn’t thought of before, and it came to me via a dream. Go figure.
As I thought about that idea, a Bible verse to back it up popped into my mind. And then a prayer. I wrote it up. One down. Ninety-nine to go.
And like manna in the wilderness, each day for the next four months, out of the craziest, most unlikely places, devo ideas would present themselves to me. Not by the truckload, but by the thimbleful – and always exactly my daily quota necessary to meet my deadline. No more, no less.
Daily bread. “Lord, give us this day our daily bread …” And He did.
And I totally got it. I thought.
Now, seven years later, I’m working on another devotional. And it isn’t going well. My motivation feels parched nearly every morning when my idea bucket comes up from the well barely dampened by only a few sparse drops. I want so badly to fill cistern after cistern that will assure me I’ll have enough material to finish the book.
But that’s not the way Papa God works, is it?
It’s all about trust. Trusting that the manna will be there. Just enough daily bread for ONE day. And then trusting that it’ll be there tomorrow too.
How about you, dearest BFF (Blessed Friend Forever)? When has Papa God used daily bread to meet your needs?