Another Word…by Gus Keiser

August 28, 2017

 

When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.  Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.”

                                                                                                                                     Exodus 16:15

 Time to do some thinking back…to kid times. When you were a kid, did you ever find yourself thinking about or dreaming about your future?  If you were like most kids, there were those times when just sort of daydreamed about what would happen to you as the years would pass by and you’d grow older.  What would school be like?  Where would you end up going to college?  What would you ultimately do for a living?  Would you find the person of your dreams, get married and have children?

Sounds like the typical thing a child would do, doesn’t it? But that dream world process you find out doesn’t end when you finally reach adulthood, for there is more dreaming to do.  Single people wonder whether there’s a spouse out there for them somewhere.  As parents, you dream about what your child(ren) are going to grow up to be.  You wonder if your children will have children of their own and just how your grandchildren will turn out.  Young adults wonder about their eventual career paths, and as retirement age draws ever closer, you prepare for or, in some cases, worry about how you’ll financially make it through retirement.

But then, isn’t that human nature…that desire to look ahead with wonder? Let’s face it, don’t we all allow those dreams of the future to interrupt the drudgery of our work-a-day world, and to make all that drudgery all worthwhile?  For many of us, it’s that anticipation of future events that gets us up in the morning and that helps us focus on our plans for tomorrow.  It’s what separates us from our best friend, the dog.

In some ways, we aren’t any different than the Israelites in the verse from Exodus above. There, in the middle of nowhere, they were faced with an uncertain future and an immediate need for food and water.  So they began to do what most of us would do when faced with such a situation, they grumbled and complained.  And the majority of their complaints centered around the fact that, while they may have labored hard during their years of slavery, at least in Egypt they always had plenty to eat and drink.  But now here they were, out in the desert, and they and their children were hungry and thirsty.  As I said, put yourself in their place, and try and look at this dilemma from their perspective.  Chances are you’d have few pointed questions and words for Moses as well.

Fortunately for them they were being watched over by a God who wasn’t deaf. He was quick to respond to their needs by providing for them.  You’ve been to Sunday school, so you know the story.  Each morning, flakes of bread (manna) appeared on the ground around their campsite.  And in the evening the ground around them was covered with quail.  But these gifts from God came with a caveat… They weren’t allowed to hoard what they gathered and they weren’t allowed to store it up for later.  Moses instructed them to gather up only what they would need for the day…no more, no less.  This was a tough rule to follow when all they could think about was their current condition and what they would have with which to feed their hungry children.

The question then arises: why would God limit what they could gather? Why not allow them to eat all they wanted?  God did it to teach them the importance of something we all need to learn… that we are to sustain a relationship with God only in the present.

Our past is nothing more than the story of how we’ve gotten to where we are, and dwelling on those past memories are only going to lead us to stagnation and dissatisfaction. We can’t find God by worrying or by dreaming about the future either, because that’s just going to lead us to want to control whatever lies ahead.

Without question, all of us have concerns and hopes and dreams for our futures. But this story is here to remind us that we need to live out our relationship with God only in the here and now.  God longs for us to trust him every hour and every minute of the day.

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