Monday, December 20, 2010

Manna Living Myth Busters

Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11

Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. Proverbs 30:7-9

I’ve got a whole new fear of the Lord going on right now. For quite some time, I’ve had a healthy fear of Him as the one who brought me into this world and the one who can take me out. But now, He’s scaring me in new ways. God is doing something with me, to me, in me, and there’s no dismissing it as coincidental or casually observing it as “interesting” any more. No, now it is getting downright scary. In fact, I’m starting to pray that prayer, “No, Lord, please, I don’t wanna!” At the same time, it’s kind of exciting, because I know my Father isn’t going to lead me down a path that He doesn’t make straight.

In this present convergence, I am living in Brazil, where all things economic are more salient to me, and I am reading the books Answers to Prayer by George Mueller, and Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. Meanwhile, “coincidentally” an impulsive post I made on Facebook resulted in my getting through email the e-book Economic Conspiracy: Relationality, and learning about the nascent organization Then last night, again, just “randomly” clicking around on Facebook led me to a Francis Chan YouTube video, a two-minute contemplation on Proverbs 30:7-9. The video was titled “I Dare You to Pray This,” and I went to bed wondering if Chan himself is daring to pray for no more than his daily bread, like the author of that proverb.

This morning, I woke up to this in my reading of Mueller’s book: “Our position now regarding the Orphan work is, praying day by day, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ For a considerable time we have had day by day to look to the Lord for the supply of our daily wants; but God has helped us thus far.”

Lastly, I checked emails and saw that Dave Doc Rogers responded to a thread of mine on Facebook saying, “I understand 'manna' living - just enough, fresh everyday; but I ask that God - our Father - give me all He can so I can do my part to fund or go to all of the world and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to every creature. Amen." I had to click through to see what thread that belonged to, because I couldn’t remember anything I had recently posted about daily bread or manna living. When I got there, I was shocked to see the link to that Chan video on my status! Somehow without realizing it, I had clicked on “share” and added that video to my wall. (Can someone please coin a phrase that means essentially “Freudian slip,” but with holy connotations!)

I was glad Dave Doc Rogers made that remark, because it has led to new understanding about “manna living” or "daily bread living." Asking only for one’s daily provisions by no means requires a person to live in poverty or on meager means. Nor does it limit us to what we can do for the glory of God. That is a myth that has grown up around “manna living” like a thistle bush to make it seem unsavory and impractical, particularly in modern financial times. It does mean that we solely depend on God to provide for all our needs as well as for the desires of our heart. These provisions can be meager or they can be mammoth, depending on His calling on our lives. There is no real relationship between the magnitude of our task and our access to tomorrow’s, next week’s or next year’s manna. Faith in such relationships, for example, believing that the 500K in my retirement fund will keep me from being a burden to my children in the future, is nothing more than misplaced hope.

Let me provide two true examples of how manna living should be confused with meager living. One comes from the life of Michael Cassidy, founder of African Enterprises, who shared it in his book African Harvest. Michael was a student at Fuller Theology School when God gave him a vision to return to his native Africa for the summer and conduct a pan-African evangelistic campaign. Michael was obedient to this leading, and booked tickets for the pan-African tour for himself and a partner in ministry. Just one problem, he had no money to pay for the tickets. That was back in the day when people used travel agents and you didn’t have to pay for tickets within 24 hours of making a reservation. As the semester was coming to a close, prospects for paying for the summer trip were nil, and the travel agent continued to pester Michael about when he was going to pay for those flights he had booked. Until the day before departure, Michael had no idea how God would provide, but he prepared for departure in faith. Then on that last day before the trip, the president of Fuller called him into his office and gave him enough money to pay for the trip! The president was unaware of Michael’s plans and said he was simply being obedient to God’s prompting. Amazing. And totally true. Not urban religion legend, but totally true.

The second example comes from the life and work of George Mueller, a Brit who started orphanages with the primary purpose of showing God’s people that He can be trusted to provide for our needs when we do His work. Manna-living myth-buster that he is, Mueller did big things. In fact, at the time he wrote, “For a considerable time we have had day by day to look to the Lord for the supply of our daily wants,” Mueller had been at this orphanage thing for about 50 years and had 2,100 people under his care.

There are many other examples, both Biblical and contemporary, of this living-by-faith-for-daily-bread—I even have some in my family. It’s not a question of verity. If we fail to believe that our God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus on the single merit that it is the infallible word of God, all we need to do is look around to people who have lived and are living this way to see and experience the truth of that promise.

So what are we all waiting for??? Yea, I know. Me too. I’m not there in my faith yet. This is the faith-building work God is doing in me just now (and scaring the heck out of me with). The important thing at this stage is that I don’t resist the teaching. The important thing is that I don’t believe the lies that the evil one whispers when he says, “That’s not the way God operates anymore. Times have changed.” Yes, they have, but God calls us to live in ancient ways.

“This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” Jer. 6:16.

1 comment:

  1. I like this comment from above: "These provisions can be meager or they can be mammoth, depending on His calling on our lives."

    The real challenge is managing what God has given us to manage. Therein lies our daily bread. A problem arises when we are also given our seed to sow and our bread to eat. Some have taken to assuming all given is 'bread to eat' and they consume it all. Any farmer will tell you that is folly.

    Manage the vineyards God has given you to manage. If that is faithful in the day-to-day work place or as an entrepreneur or as person of great wealth. Each one has a responsibility to God, our Father, as to how those assets were managed.

    Now some will say 'all I have is enough.' My father is one of those.

    Others will look at what they have and see opportunities to additionally bless and ask as Jabez to expand their tents.

    Others will look around at all they have been blessed with and say as Nebuchadnezzar did, 'Look what the God of Israel has done in my life' and then tell all of those under his influence.

    As each is given a measure of faith, each is given the ability of trusting God to meet their daily need. Some get greedy and ask God to help meet the needs of others.

    There is nothing wrong at any state you find yourself. In need, need just met, need exceeded, exceeded need to help meet the needs of others.

    Find out from God, where your 'need' is.