Manna, literally, “What is it?”
The mystery and wonder of the substance encapsulated in a few scant syllabi of its name. Was it puzzlement or true wonder that the Israelites felt? I’m not sure, but for now let’s run with the latter.
The five day Worldview camp on the Eastern tip of our beloved island was a period of manna-raining. It fell daily from the sky – like dew, refreshing; formed wafer-like substance, to satisfy genuine hunger. The Israelites had a physical hunger to deal with. Mine was of the soul and of the spirit.
God knows how long I’ve gone hungry, settling for spiritual junk in moments of non-self-control.
So the manna fell, softly, gently, winsomely and beautifully, like snow. I was a child full of wonder as I took in the sight around me. Every day, my soul was being restored a bit more. Every day, I drew a little closer to and then and little deeper into the presence of God.
I’d come for the intellectual stimulation – I’m sure most participants who signed up for the camp had at least some part of that in their minds. We were certainly not disappointed with the fare, both the nourishment that fell from the speakers’ lips, as well as the extensive spread from the buffet tables. We fed our minds, and our bodies, and on the holy, sacred grounds of fellowship and communion with the Trinity and with one another, we fed our souls too.
It could have been the times of worship, as twenty over to thirty of us sang impassionately, joined by our common love and commitment to the Lord and His Kingdom.
Or the personal moments when discourse went from the theoretical to the personal, both in the function room as speakers revealed the inner workings of the Holy Spirit in and through their lives, and around the dining table as kindred souls connected with one another over newfound knowledge and understanding.
Or the lull moments in the afternoons, when we quietly collected our thoughts and reflected on what God was working on in the private closets of our lives.
In my own time, I devoured the words off “The Ragamuffin Gospel” hungrily as words leapt off the pages like manna from the skies. In the quiet quarters of my hotel room, God was mending and restoring. Each day brought fresh revelation as my mind expanded over the insights from the speakers and my heart enlarged over the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
I emerged from the camp five days later a little off colour from a flu, but extremely robust in my spirit. I would not realize the extent to which God had done His work, until I am sitting before the television at night with absolutely no desire for entertainment, and felt, instead, a poison seeping into me through the airwaves from the screen.
My appetite had changed. I had been restored to the degree that I started desiring holiness. Holy Spirit in me was rejecting all the junk that I’d grown accustomed to, and I knew that if I let Him lead and not quench Him, He will continue stirring up my desire for more things of God.
It has been more than a week now since camp, and after the initial spiritual high, holy living has now transited to some level of discipline. I can choose to continue in the spirit of what God had begun and say ‘no’ to my hunger pangs for junk, or I can feed the old fleshly appetite and let it grow and outgrow this newly developed taste for purer things. It is a daily decision, and slowly, I am learning to prefer God above other things.
So back to manna.
The Israelites would become dissatisfied with this miraculous arrangement in the desert and eventually dream backwards to the leeks, onions and meat of Egypt. After its initial sheen, it’s easy to become disillusioned with this miraculous falling of dew-like wafer from the skies. We’ve been there, done that, ate it the night before. So what’s new?
Journeying with God is much the same. After the initial hype of a revival, it takes something else to sustain what was birthed and to keep us on the right path. It takes conscious choice. It takes effort. But lest we think we’re on our own, we lean heavily onto the grace of God to whisper the better choice to us when temptation calls. Or as a couple of speakers emphasized at camp, we are to rest completely into, settle deeply into, sink all our weight upon God. In that way we truly abide and remain in Him.
This blog post, my omer of manna from camp, is for my remembrance, lest my forgetful soul loses sight of the awe and wonder of that time in the desert when manna rained from heaven, when God miraculously provided for His people.