We are going through some major transitions in our family this summer.
In a few weeks, our oldest daughter will be moving to London to study abroad for the fall semester.
Even sooner, our baby girl will be moving to Boston to start her freshman year of college.
This fall, for the first time since my big girl started school 16 years ago, I will not be planning my days around school schedules and kids’ activities.
A few weeks ago, my husband unexpectantly got an exciting/ scary/ wonderful/ challenging/ BIG promotion at work.
Earlier this summer, we made the difficult decision to leave our church home of 17 years and have recently started visiting new churches.
AND, on Friday, I will turn 50!
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Woman of Faith conference with some of my favorite sister friends. As always, we had a wonderful time and I thoroughly enjoyed the music, the teaching, and the time with my dear ones. One of the speakers, Christine Caine, was especially inspiring for me in this season of my life.
Her message was centered around Joshua 5 when the Israelites finally arrived in the promised land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. God had once again delivered them through seemingly insurmountable obstacles. At this point in the story, they had arrived in the promised land, but had not yet taken possession of the promised land.
As I listened and took notes, I made a number of meaningful connections as she talked about taking laps around Mt. Sinai in preparation and the “circumcision” or cutting away necessary to take possession of the promised land. This was, after all, a familiar story and I have always loved the part where the Israelites had to wade into the Jordan and get their feet wet before God stopped the water for them to cross. So many beautiful spiritual metaphors!
This time, however, I heard something new. Probably my favorite thing about studying God’s word is when He surprises me with something brand new in a familiar story…something I would swear was not there the last time I read the passage. In verse 11-12, we learn that after they ate from the produce of the land of Canaan for the first time, the manna stopped. For 40 years, God had been feeding them by dropping food from heaven in the form of manna. Now the manna had ceased. Christine suggested that God was saying to them “I’m not doing it like that anymore.”
I had never thought about the manna stopping before!! I have always loved the story of manna….bread from heaven, only enough for one day, just the right portion for each family and it would spoil if you tried to stockpile it up for the future. Each day, you had to receive your perfect portion directly from the hand of God. So many applications to the ways that God provides for us.
But manna was food for the wilderness, not the promised land. Just because God provided sustenance in the form of manna for a season, didn’t mean that was the one and only way God could or would provide for His children. I’m sure some of the manna eaters were thrilled by something new to eat in their new home, but I suspect there were a few who did not like things changing. THIS was how God fed them, this was how God WORKED….it had always been that way, at least in recent memory, and they were likely comfortable knowing just what to expect. You get up in the morning, you go out and gather the manna. Every day, except for the Sabbath. You could count on it. Predictability feels like safety sometimes.
For some reason, the phrase “the manna ceased” struck me deeply and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I find myself repeating it, praying it, pondering it, meditating on it. The circumstances of our life right now speak to God saying “I’m not doing it like that anymore.” “This is a new season,” He says, “and you may experience Me, hear Me, be fed by Me in a new way….perhaps even an unfamiliar way.” I’m still listening….writing about it is part of the listening.
The good news about being so dang old is that, for the most part, the idea of God taking me on a new adventure and speaking to me in a new way sounds really exciting. I trust Him. He has always, always been faithful, even when….especially when… I’m not. There are days when I’m not sure whether I’m still circling Mount Sinai, waiting in the circumcision line at Gilgal or marching around Jericho waiting for that wall to come down. I know for sure that I have experienced all 3 of those scenarios at some point. And now, in this new season, what will it mean to take possession of the Promised Land that God has in store for me? I love that the Holy Spirit still uses the stories of scripture to speak to us right where we are today. In a room full of thousands of women, God reached out to each of us individually in just the way we needed. I love that!
The manna ceased….I can’t wait to see what is next!