In the desert he fed you manna—something your ancestors had never seen. He tested you to make you humble so that everything would go well for you in the end.
Deuteronomy 8:16 (ERV)
It’s called Manna House, our local food distribution center. I thought I got it, you know, manna…basic needs…God provides…every day. We all know the story about the Hebrews in the desert being fed with manna from the sky (Exodus 16).
But it took me awhile to relate the only-one-day-at-a-time philosophy to Manna House.
I’m not sure where all these food and toiletry items come from that are given at Manna House to our city’s needy—some are leftovers from restaurants; some are mislabeled cans that can’t be sold at grocery stores; some are donations from individual companies.
I just know it’s a lot of stuff.
But there are a lot of people who come for it.
So while a variety of goods can be distributed to everybody that comes in, the quantities per person are limited.
I remember a night I was volunteering to give out toiletries. The toiletry area is the last stop before the exit. After going through the food line, people can ask for extras like shampoo and deodorant, when we have it. A sandwich baggie of baby wipes and four diapers per child. One regular bar of soap or two bars if they’re small.
And one roll of toilet paper (as long as it lasts anyway).
All are welcome to come back another day and get another roll. And many do.
But for this day, one roll is it. Enough for a day for a family. Manna.
Still, people do ask for more. Naturally. And it hurts to say no. But the more rolls given to one person, the less rolls for everybody else. The rolls to distribute are limited.
Personally if there’s one thing I never want to run out of it, it’s toilet paper. We all went through that scare during the first year of the pandemic.
Yet…yet…there’s something about only having enough supplies to hand out for the day that keeps everybody coming back together, both those in need and those who volunteer. We’re all dependent on how God’s people carry out God’s mercy.
Now that’s not to say God wouldn’t want us to bless someone with a 12-roll pack. Or that God wants us to live life on the edge, one roll at a time.
But if one roll a day is what we have right now—with hope for another roll tomorrow—maybe it’s enough. For today.
Does it satisfy me? Does this manna feel sufficient?
- My manna of energy?
- My manna of time?
- My manna of knowledge?
Is it enough to know what will happen today? Or do I want a year’s supply of foreknowledge to store up? Is one set of 24 hours enough from dawn to dawn? And is it okay by me that I run out of energy after 16 of those hours and need to go unconscious for the next 8?
(And would I feel less greedy for more if I hoarded more than my share and woke up with maggots in the pantry like the Hebrews experienced when they hoarded manna?)
There’s something about receiving only enough for the day that keeps me coming back for more. It keeps me dependent on the mercy of God.
Granted, I’ve received far more than a day’s supply of most everything possible. I eat often of the fruit from Canaan (Joshua 5:12)—I’m grateful.
But for the supplies that only trickle in one day at a time, I still want to be grateful. To be humble. To be content.
I’ll just have to keep trusting God’s grace—however it’s delivered—one roll at a time.
One day at a time.
What do you have a scarcity mindset about? Share your thoughts in the comments.
revised from the archives
- Can White People Be Good Friends to Black People?
- 5 Ways to Let Go of Unrealistic Expectations