Our Farmer’s Almanac says the Midwest is in for a lollapalooza of a winter. If that’s true, there’s cause for concern about Little Red’s welfare and all his squirrel buddies. Last year our neighborhood was blanketed with acorns, so much so that walking the length of the driveway was like lurching about on a carpet of marbles.
This fall, however, there’s nary an acorn to be seen. God may have told the trees, “After outdoing yourselves last year, take a year off.” But good news for the oaks has been bad news for the critters. I didn’t realize the extent of the problem until I bought a few pumpkins for the front porch.
I’d barely gone inside when the first little thief came and dragged the tiny baseball-sized pumpkin away. I counted again and again before realizing what had happened. Now, a week later, they’re all but gone, the chewed-up evidence scattered throughout the yard.
All of this off-the-ground eating puts me in mind of the biblical manna. Although its timely arrival every night was miraculous, God told the Israelites his main reason for sending it wasn’t to satisfy their hunger, as much as to teach them about the nourishing, faithful Source behind it: him.
I sometimes think of the incredible boredom of eating manna every day for 40 years. The slaves of the Egyptian pharaoh who left in a hurry never realized how scrumptious that last Passover meal had been with its roast lamb and all the trimmings. Once they were in the desert, it was same old, same old, despite God’s eventual addition of quail to the menu.
We get frustrated eating leftovers more than once or twice in a row. How about being raised on manna as your staple? Forty years worth of newly-born wilderness-Israelites had no idea what it was like to eat anything else.
I always thought of manna as God’s provision of love, but the Bible says he sent it “to humble them and test them” for their own good. (Deuteronomy 8:16) In other words, he knew how difficult it would be to exist on the miraculous but boring manna day after day but considered it useful training. And then came that glorious day when they walked into Canaan and had their first taste of something new: baked bread and roasted grain, mmmm-good!
At the end of God’s humbling and the tests he allows into our lives even today, we can always count on him to provide the mmmm-good when it’s over!
BTW, maybe the local squirrels have viewed their annual acorn diet like so much manna, nourishing but boring. If so, this year’s pumpkin feast must seem like the Promised Land!
“No manna appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of [Canaan], and it was never seen again.” (Joshua 5:12)
(FYI, Scripture hints we might all get to see and taste a little manna in heaven. Remember, he saved a jar of starter in the Ark of the Covenant. Revelation 2:17)