First, I’ll go on a slight tangent before I even start. God’s providence is truly amazing. Falling behind in my Bible reading plan, I have been plugging away, a chapter or two (or three) a day. On Saturday, before I read this chapter in Running Scared, I read Exodus 16, on the provision of manna from heaven.
Of course, as only God could plan, the next day was this chapter called “The Manna Principle.”
The manna story reveals a number of things about God:
- God hears. He heard the grumbling of his people in Egypt. And Welch explains, “The lesson is clear: he doesn’t hear because of us and the quality of our prayers. He hears because he is the God Who Hears” (73). Welch calls the reader to let something sink in – God is not like us. He hears, and he matches hearing with acting. “Every instance of God hearing is followed by his mighty acts” (74). This motivates us (or it should) to pray. We pray to a God who hears. This has been something that has been particularly helpful to me recently. I have been praying for God to lift my worry and to show me himself so that I will trust in him – for him to give me a trusting heart.
- God is near. And he is working.
- God tests.
Now comes a key feature of this story. Expect to find it in your story as well. God is the One Who Tests, and he will test you. Don’t think of final exams and test anxiety. Think of this test as a way to expose traitors during wartime. We are the potential traitors and don’t even know it. God tests us because we are so oblivious to the mixed allegiances in our hearts. The purpose of the test is to help us see our hearts and if they are found traitorous, we can turn back to God. God is not playing mind games with us; he is forging a relationship (75, emphasis mine).
Hebrews 12 says that God disciplines his children, which is basically what Welch is saying here. Particularly the last clause hit me—“he is forging a relationship”! It helps me to understand the interplay of God’s Fatherhood and Kingship, his sovereignty and goodness, how he can love us and plan crummy stuff to happen to us. He is forging a relationship – between us and himself. God has tested my heart recently, and, in part, he has shown me that I can idolize my marriage. But God wants me to love him more than Laura, so he tests me.
Welch has two sub-points here.
Only enough for today. The provision of manna, sufficient for every day, was intended to build trust. And, “The emerging idea is that he wants us to trust him in the future rather than our self-protective plans” (77).
The Sabbath test. This is the graduate school of trust in some ways, learning to trust God when the manna does not fall.
- God’s generosity knows no bounds. God wants us to trust him for physical needs, yes, but more than that, with our spiritual needs. These are his ultimate provisions for us. “God’s deliverance is better than food, a clean medical scan, or having our candidate win the election” (79). And I would add (insert issue here). God will be with us, and we will be able to withstand temptation and the onslaught of Satan.
A personal response. Welch, here, has five possible response, which are good and you should read if you get the book. Yesterday, I said I would tell you a story. It is a response to this chapter in the book. I was at a Starbucks while Laura was at a women’s event for church when I read the chapter. After finishing, I walked around outside to meditate on some of the things I had read. It hit me. I have not been trusting God for his provision in the future. Mostly I mean ministry-wise. I have wanted ways to somehow wrench success from his hands, either by prayer or study, or just worrying about it. Often I have seen “Jesus” as a means to an end – that is, my own personal success, notoriety, etc. I repented of this, and asked that God would let me trust him, one. And, second, that I would desire only his glory, for he the one worthy of it. He is the King and Father.
Worry occupies so much spheres of my life. But in all of it God is my King and my Father. I have seeing that more clearly than ever.