Looking for Manna
by Jennifer Pearce
Long before “pandemic,” “social distancing,” and “coronavirus” were part of our vocabulary, so like last Wednesday, an errant Amazon package arrived at my door. The box was labeled for my house number and street, but the name was unknown to me. I looked for the name on our neighborhood social media page and then on the community page to no avail. I searched the FAQ page on Amazon. This seemed to be a unique case. My last option was to submit a help ticket and wait. So I did.
While the box in my foyer awaited its fate, the world around it transformed entirely. School was cancelled. Daily press conferences were called. Toilet paper disappeared. Panic gripped.
The initial response of my two sons to this worldwide event was “Hooray! No school!” but we quickly hit a wall. “Wait, EVERYTHING is cancelled?” Tears of disappointment soon took the place of the excited cheers. Track practice was cancelled. Laughs on the school bus were cancelled. Life was cancelled.
Then a message from Amazon in my inbox: “Sorry for the inconvenience. Feel free to keep the package or dispose of it. Our mistake.”
Wait, what? My sons raced to the foyer and eagerly gathered around the box, clawing to see who could get into it faster. As they pulled out its contents, the most unusual word came to my mind: “Manna.”
Do you remember this biblical word? It’s so strange. It literally means “What is it?” because when the Israelites saw it, they were baffled.
What they did know is manna was a miraculous gift provided to them by God to sustain them while he led them through the wilderness. Manna was sustenance and it was daily and it was just what they needed.
Our Amazon box didn’t contain “a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketing the ground,” but we were already in a similar spot to the Israelites. We were in the wilderness of quarantines and we were grumbling. “Remember how good we used to have it, back when we could just have a sleepover with our friends, or get a haircut, or grab pizza at our favorite restaurant?”
And then . . . manna. The boys fell silent as they pulled out a huge box of Legos. It was just what we needed. Just when we needed it.
It’s not lost on me that when the Israelites received their manna they were in a desert season. It was an intimate time for the Lord and his people. He brought them there so that they would know him. There were no taskmasters around like they had in Egypt. And he kept them there for awhile to get the Egypt out of them. There were no distractions like keeping up with the daily chores of slavery. Just simple experiences of trust and provision. Does that sound familiar to you? It does to me too.
During this desert season, I challenge you to look for the manna, in whatever form you may find it. Whether it be the 12-pack of Charmin at Meijer or a box of Lego bricks on your doorstep. Look for the manna. Gather the manna. Enjoy it daily.
Jennifer Pearce is the Communications Coordinator at Christ’s Church.