I have long loved the story of God providing manna to the Israelites in the desert. From the utterly and completely dependent relationship it created to its very name (“What is this?”), manna has felt like a metaphor for how I meet God. There’s a lot of opening my hands to find something I don’t understand, and a lot of trying to store it up for tomorrow.
Lately, it has felt like God has been leaving me a trail of manna to follow through the wilderness. I scurry over to just exactly what I need, even if I don’t understand it. I take what I am given and wait, again, for tomorrow’s portion to pop up somewhere else. I scurry over, partake, and wait.
And so it goes, a maze of breadcrumbs and barely-enough, but every day there is just exactly what I need.
It is beyond frustrating.
It feels so unproductive, racing in circles and waiting for something I don’t understand to fall into my lap. It makes me feel angry at a God who won’t show His hand, who won’t motion me up the next mountain and tell me what good things are waiting for me at the top.
It feels like exile.
40 years in the desert was a full generation. A full generation who only knew walking and waiting and walking and waiting.
Or perhaps, who only knew walking, waiting, and manna.
They knew what it was to wander. They knew what it was to wait. And they knew the exasperation of “What is this?!” that fell from the sky every day for their meals.
40 years in the desert was a full generation who only knew that God provided exclusively things of the “What is this?” variety.
And they learned to trust it. The Israelites expected manna to fall every day, because it always did, because God always provided.
I do not know where the trail of manna is leading. I am tired of wandering and waiting, but as I open my hands and see the manna provided again for today, I realize that I have come to expect it.
I no longer doubt that God will provide. I know walking and waiting and manna in this season, and I find that it has taught me a limping trust, an almost-faith.
Perhaps faith is where the trail is always meant to lead. Perhaps it is the only direction I will ever know.
Today it is direction enough.
Photo by Kat Selvocki, via flickr.