We talk all the time in groups about how the key ingredient of personal spiritual growth is trust in God. That sounds simple, right? But actually trusting is hard. It's counterintuitive. It feels dangerous. That's because trusting God requires us to acknowledge that he's not going to submit to our agendas. He's not necessarily going to do what we want or expect. He's God; we're not.
The other day I was reading Exodus 16. It's the part of the story when Moses has led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. They're wandering around Sinai, starting to get hungry, and grumbling a lot. The Message, Eugene Peterson's Bible paraphrase/commentary, describes what happens next:
God spoke to Moses, “I’ve listened to the complaints of the Israelites. Now tell them: ‘At dusk you will eat meat and at dawn you’ll eat your fill of bread; and you’ll realize that I am God, your God.’”
That evening quail flew in and covered the camp and in the morning there was a layer of dew all over the camp. 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.
So Moses told them, “It’s the bread God has given you to eat."
I love how Peterson hones in on the meaning of man-hu (a.k.a. manna): "What is it?" That's the big question, right? God provided for the Israelites, but it was still a mystery to them what he was doing and how he was doing it. I don't know about you, but I experience the same thing all the time (not the bread from heaven, but the general sense that I have no clue what God is up to). There's a big part of me that doesn't just want God to provide, but wants him to let me in on the plan for provision. I want to know the details because I want to feel some sense of control.
God's not in the business of sharing the details. That can be irritating, but I really do believe it's for our own good.
"What is it?" reveals our dependence on God even as he provides for us. It reminds us of the obvious: we are not equal partners with the creator of the universe.
"What is it?" moves us to trust our heavenly Father rather than trying to control our circumstances. Every opportunity we have to trust God is an opportunity to grow in our relationship with him. And growing in our relationship with him should be the central aim of our lives, right?
How is God providing for you right now? When it comes to that provision, what are some practical things you can do to help yourself get comfortable with letting go of control and living in the tension of "What is it?"