By Beth Demme
I tend to rely on visual cues. I like calendar reminders that pop up on my phone. I like post-it notes and pictures. I work surrounded by a bit of clutter. I often work from piles because when I put things away, I forget about them. I’m a classic “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” person.
My home office is tucked under the stairs so I can close the door and cordon off the clutter. I don’t have to feel guilty about how messy it looks because I’m the only one who sees it.
I also work from an office-office. I make more of an effort there, but, honestly, I could do better.
As someone who relies heavily on visual cues, how do I relate to an invisible God?
Well, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I forget to open my eyes and look around at the evidence of God’s presence and provision.
When the Israelites were on their journey to the Promised Land, God provided enough manna (bread) for each person to gather what they needed for the day and a double portion on Sabbath-eve. (Exodus 16:13‑14, 16)
Following God’s instructions, Moses had his brother Aaron put some of the manna in a jar so that later generations would see how God had provided for the Israelites in the wilderness. (Exodus 16:32-33)
God knows the power of a visual reminder, and he knows how short our human memories can be.
God knew that the Israelites would forget how manna—their daily bread—was provided for them. God knows me, too. I need this story because, like the Israelites, I tend to forget how God has provided for me.
God knows I need visible proof of my invisible God.
“Maybe I need a manna jar,” I thought. “Maybe I need a visual reminder of how God always provides my daily bread.”
I found an empty jar and thought about what to put in it. I looked on Pinterest but came up blank.
In Deuteronomy 8:3, Moses explains the purpose of the manna this way: “God put you through hard times [in the wilderness]. He made you go hungry. Then he fed you with manna … so you would learn that men and women don’t live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God’s mouth.” (MSG)
I considered writing out Bible verses and stuffing them into the jar, but that felt too literal.
I wondered how full the jar would be if I wrote notes about all the answered prayers I have experienced. It would probably overflow, and I would have to keep finding bigger jars.
I thought about filling the jar with pictures of my favorite people and places.
I wondered if I should do something more abstract.
Then I realized there are manna jars all around me.
There’s the literal manna jar – my overcrowded, disorganized kitchen pantry, full of daily bread and more.
There is also an abundance of metaphorical manna jars pointing to God’s presence and provision.
A big one for me is motherhood.
While parenting doesn’t always feel like The Promised Land, I do feel a sort of deliverance. I remember how badly I wanted to be a mom and how sad infertility made me. In fact, I would describe infertility as a wilderness experience.
When I look at my beautiful children, I remember that God provided them; that God made us a family. Along the way, I felt God use that experience to reinforce my marriage covenant with my husband, and also my covenant with God.
How do I relate to an invisible God? By opening my eyes.
Once I opened my eyes to God’s presence in my life, I realized a manna jar would just be more clutter. I don’t need another manna jar; I need more awareness and appreciation of the manna jars that are already present in my life.
What about you? Do you tend to rely on visual cues? How do you relate to an invisible God? Do you have an actual manna jar? A metaphorical one? Tell me about it in the comments, in an e-mail, or on Facebook.
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