How quickly we forget.
Those memories of God’s miraculous intervention in our lives seem to run away in our most desperate moments. Anne VosKamp, in her book “The Broken Way,” terms it soul amnesia.
When our feet feel as if they are floating on a cloud, the words of gratefulness for God’s provision can’t come fast enough. Our eyes, wide and stunned, once again capture the image of divine intervention that we vow to never forget.
The scriptures attesting to the faithfulness of a God who intimately knows the number of hairs on our heads, knit us together in the womb, is all knowing of the the dark places of our hearts, and promises to never abandon us speak in a concert of voices in the mind.
Life is good. But then it takes a turn.
How quickly we forget. Apparently, it’s a part of our DNA.
“Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. 5 “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. 6 But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6
It’s so easy to read the narratives of the Israelites and judge. How could they forget what they experienced?
“Then the Egyptians—all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and charioteers—chased them into the middle of the sea. But just before dawn the Lord looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw their forces into total confusion. He twisted[b] their chariot wheels, making their chariots difficult to drive. ” Exodus 14:23-24
Even those who didn’t have a relationship with God were stunned. “Let’s get out of here—away from these Israelites!” the Egyptians shouted. “The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt!”” Exodus 14:25
And then, just as they approached the Red Sea, God unleashed more special effects: they walked through the sea. Think about that one. THEY WALKED THROUGH the SEA! They continued on their journey of liberation. Life was good.
Until it wasn’t. At least it appeared that way.
“The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, “Why can’t we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt—and got it free!—to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna. Manna was a seedlike substance with a shiny appearance like resin.” Numbers 11:4-7
The truth is, their food was never that great in Egypt. The previous menu was not not much different from the new one. So what changed?
In Egypt, they felt crushed under oppression. Literally. They pleaded for God to hear them. Both cries for deliverance and hunger arose from the gut. And Heaven descended down to deliver them from both. When God gave them a vision for something better, they held expectations for how that would unfold.
But it didn’t happen the way they expected. In the midst, they took their focus off the Provider and focused on the provision. And that’s not where sufficiency is ultimately found.
As I read their narratives once again, I see myself in their story. The hands of Heaven have reached into my circumstances to rescue me too. Despite the fact that I am surrounded by burning bushes on a daily basis, I forget that I matter to a Great God. One who, as a friend described, “sometimes shows us his goodness and sometimes shows us his glory.”
God’s provision for me doesn’t always fit my expectations. It isn’t always flashy or announced with fanfare. Sometimes, it resembles Coriander seeds. And often, like the Israelites, my response is, “What is that?“
“When the layer of dew had lifted, there on the wilderness ground was a fine flaky something, fine as frost on the ground. The Israelites took one look and said to one another, man-hu (What is it?). They had no idea what it was.” Exodus 16:14
It isn’t at all what I expected. It isn’t my version of fulfillment. Conjuring up words of gratefulness from my heart through my lips takes longer than it should. But I need to remember that God hears the cries for deliverance and “hunger” arising from my gut. And will give my bread to satiate my needs. It just may look different than I expected.
“So Moses told them, “It’s the bread God has given you to eat.” Exodus 16:15
Maybe eventually, like the Israelites, I will get exactly what I hoped. But in the meantime, I pray for a spirit of contentment; to recognize that sometimes God’s provision looks like Coriander seeds. And that is sufficient because God is.