I’m a planner. I spent way too much money on my planner notebook, but I use it every day (maybe even every hour). One of my favorite ways to plan is to look at something in the future (for example, a party or a vacation) and to work my way backwards to create small tasks to make sure I have everything ready for that event. I assign certain days for grocery shopping, meal prepping, and decorating or certain days for making an itinerary or packing. I want to make sure that I’m prepared for when that event arrives, because one of my greatest fears is being unprepared.
Unfortunately, that “Type A” planner mode that is useful when it comes to family reunions and birthday celebrations can hinder my relationship with God. Implicitly, I do not trust Him to get me where I need to go. So I try to “micromanage” God, asking for things today that He does not plan to provide me until later.
And that is where a small story in the Old Testament spoke a truth into my life. In Exodus 17, God miraculously provides for the people of Israel by raining down bread from Heaven, “manna,” each day. While I always understood this story to be a testimony of God’s faithfulness (which it is), it wasn’t until recently that I realized this is also a story of the Israelites’ faith (or lack thereof).
There was a catch with manna; they could only gather what they would eat that day. If they tried to save some overnight, the next morning it would stink and be filled with worms. Why didn’t God provide His people with food that had a longer shelf life? It was because he wanted the Israelites to trust that He would provide what they needed when they needed it.
How does this apply to my worries about the future? My mind often drifts to the “worst-case scenarios” for difficult situations in my life. I want to prepare myself for when tragedy hits. I want to make sure that I can be in control when things go wrong. I want to know that I can strengthen myself when hard times come.
I… I… I…
When my mind races with these horrible “what-ifs,” I am like an Israelite hoarding manna only to wake up with a stinky, worm-infested heart.
And while planning in itself is not sinful (in fact, I believe God has given me the spiritual gift of administration), when I make my plans an idol in my heart, it reveals a lack of trust in God. I don’t trust that God will give me the grace I need to handle the future He has planned for me. I don’t trust that He will give me comfort if His plan is for me to lose a loved one. I don’t trust that He will give me the strength if His plan includes illness or injury. I don’t trust that He will sustain me if the economy fails.
So I try to prepare myself and create a “back up” plan if God falls through. But the story of manna teaches me that I do not need a backup plan. I can trust that today, God will give me exactly what I need to handle what he has planned. Tomorrow, whatever he has planned, he will provide the grace to accomplish his work again.
Jesus knew that this was a struggle for God’s people, that’s why he included this line in the Lord’s prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). I believe this is not just about praying for food but about showing an attitude of humble submission and reliance on God each and every day. We need him today; we will need him tomorrow. There will never be a day we do not need him; and there will never be a day where he will not provide.
Later in that Matthew 6, Jesus commands the people to not be anxious, because God knows our needs and meets them, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). We do not have to worry about tomorrow, because God already has prepared his provisions.
So each morning I wake up, I can choose to worry about what may go wrong tomorrow, later this year, or in five years. I can choose to fretfully make lists or harden my heart or try to overly discipline myself.
Or instead, I can wake up knowing that I am more valuable to God than flowers or sparrows, and he has given me exactly what I need that day.
And when I wake up tomorrow, there will ample manna for me to feast.