It’s early morning and I’m hungry. My mind starts thinking of what would taste good: comfort, control, health, glory, answers to questions, things to be different… Hunger motivates me; moves me.
I know He has provided food. I’ve followed the others to where the manna is. I look down at the pieces from where I stand. Somehow, I know this is my manna. Mine. Just what God prepared for me. My stomach growls and I look for what I’m craving. It’s not there. My eyes scan the pieces. I can’t see them all, but I do see “love for your family”, “joy in suffering”, “peace in trials”, “faith without understanding”. There is a big piece called “humility”. I gag a little. I push the pile around a bit looking for what I requested: “answers to questions”, “fixes for things broken”. Those are not on the menu, apparently. Weird. I don’t even remember seeing a menu, come to think of it.
Though I’m annoyed, I have enough sense to not send my manna back to the Chef. And this time, I don’t sulk/stomp/run away from what He has given. That response never curbs the hunger. I’ve learned in the past few years. I stand. My knees shake with fear (or anger, I’m not sure). The manna is on the ground. I know it’s good for me, but I can’t make myself bend to it. I am stiff. Bending feels impossible. It hurts. I muster up strength and preach to myself, but nothing. I’m hungry. My hunger drives me, but I am powerless. There is no bending in me. In frustration, I throw my head back and look up. Is He there? Does He really have better things for me? Does He know that I can’t even stoop for my own blankety-blank manna?
Suddenly, in this head-rear, in this desperate, upward cry, my knees stop shaking and they buckle. My weight bends them and I am stooping; my knees hit the ground. My manna is within reach. I look around at the others that I have followed here. They all make it look so easy. Did they bend low without His help? I’m embarrassed about how God had to “hobble” me to get me here. They show no evidence of their own hobbling. Everyone else looks like graceful stoopers. I turn away in shame and look up again. Is He ashamed of me? As I strain my neck upwards again from crouch, my back gives way and He lowers me again, more. I’m so low that I can’t get a view of the others. Immediately, this helps. My stomach rumbles again. Hunger and limited sight helps me focus on what’s next.
I see the manna there for me. “It’s what I need”, I tell myself. I resolve to eat it. However, at the tail end of my resolution, an image crouches at the back door of my mind. I picture the woman next to me. I can’t really see her, but I imagine her peacefully cutting her manna-food with fork and knife, chewing with her lipstick mouth, and smiling graciously. She’s thanking Him and asking for more of the same. I am not her. I am sweating from the hobbling incident, grumbling about the menu, and holding the manna in my bare, dirty hands. My now-fierce hunger blocks her out and I eat. I hold my nose so I can swallow what’s there for me. Some bites aren’t bad, a little bland, maybe. Others are dry, and some are even pretty bitter. There are others, specifically the piece called “humility” that taste disgusting. Somehow, I get it all down. It’s not pretty, but I thrill with the sense that the Chef is watching me and smiling.
It takes time for your brain to realize that you’ve eaten. It’s in this time that I start this new year. I’m hobbled, dirty, and exhausted from previous years, but I’ve eaten the manna. He had to prepare it, place it, and make me stoop, but I’m no longer hungry. I’m digesting. What now? Actually, I’ve read somewhere that our best digestion happens when we rest. I’m resting. He’s with me.
I’m not mad about the hobbling. I’m sore, but it’s a “good sore” if you know what I mean.
Have you eaten?
Photo Credit: Chris Sardegna