“[God] rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven” (Psalm 78:24 NIV).
Sheer panic is an apt description for what I felt.
Laurel and I moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana in January of 1984, to begin working with a small Christian ministry. There was only one hitch. We had to raise our own support. After sending letters to everyone we knew (and a few people we didn’t), we had raised about $500 a month in income.
We needed to cover at least three times that in expenses.
I was a bit cocky at the time. (I was only 23!)
I figured that Laurel could earn the balance by working as an RN. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but I was trusting in our own resources, not God.
I’ve learned over the years that when we’re trusting in ourselves, God often has a way of removing the crutches, of forcing us to turn our eyes and trust toward him.
Laurel wasn’t able to find a nursing job anywhere. Changes in Medicare had caused them all to dry up.
So, with $1,500+ in monthly expenses and $500 in monthly income, what were we going to do?
I was panicked. But we were also in a situation where we had no choice but to cry out to God and trust him to provide.
Much happened that year that I don’t have time or space to go into. But what has stuck with me for 35 years is how God taught us what I call the lesson of the manna. God provided food every day for his people as they wandered in the wilderness. He taught us to likewise look to him, not ourselves, as our provider.
No, we didn’t find money lying on the ground every morning. But over that year we never missed a bill payment. (Don’t ask me how. I have no idea.)
Laurel eventually found a job as a home health nurse, but it was only as a fill-in. So we never knew from week to week how much (or if!) she would find work. It’s as if God was telling us, “I’m going to provide, but I want you to trust me for that provision.”
That went on for a several months, and then eventually she got her own patient, a sweet lady with terminal cancer. Laurel cared for her daily until she passed away.
It wasn’t long after that, that we were called to serve at a small church in Greenville, Texas.
So what was the lesson of the manna?
Simply put, God provides.
This isn’t prosperity theology; we tightened our belts that year.
I remember buying a ceiling fan and a floor “tornado fan” so that we could minimize our A/C use during the stifling heat that summer.
We didn’t spend much on entertainment, going out to eat, etc.
Having grown up on the mission field, Laurel knew how to live frugally. I credit her with our ability to economize and make the most of what God provided.
But still, he provided.
And he taught us to trust him and look to him to supply what we needed.
And he was faithful.
And the lesson of the manna was exactly what I needed to learn. Because fifteen years later, as my ministry at that little church in Greenville was drawing to a close, Laurel and I decided to step out on faith again.
This time with no guarantee of income. No support raising. Not even Laurel’s nursing.
(To be continued…)