When the manna ends…

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Joshua 5:12 – And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

In Joshua 5, at the end of the wilderness wandering, abruptly the manna ends. After 40 years of provided manna from the sky…suddenly there is a transition to eating food gardened from the ground. 

Growing ones food requires far more discipline than simply picking it up from atop the ground six days a week. Waiting for a harvest requires a greater level of patience than the 24 hour cycle of fresh manna every morning. 

It’s been just over a month since we left behind life as we knew it. In some ways, for 17 years we lived in the manna life. Never have we had surplus, we’ve always depended on “tomorrow” but, there’s always been provision for the day. We were living the manna life…and after 17 years…it became routine. Cautiously expected even. But now we have transitioned from the wilderness life and are moving toward a new land. And the manna has ended. 

The email confirming a direct deposit doesn’t show up anymore and the calendar of appointments is strangely blank. This new life requires an unfamiliar preparation of soil, planting of seeds, hope for rain, a waiting for growth. Translate that as…it is really hard to find a meaningful and income providing job. 

A confession: last night I was awake into the morning hours…worried. It was the first time in this journey I have sensed such a feeling. I worried not about our survival or if we can “pay the bills.” I worry we don’t know how to live outside the manna way of life. 

The manna life is a picture of the acquisition culture; an expectant dulldrum of a daily grind. Get up, collect, and eat. It is the liturgy of the consumer. No wonder the manna ended. It was time for these wandering slaves to become watering gardeners. It was time for the practice of a weekly sabbath to become a life of sabbath practices. It was yet another step in their journey toward freedom.

I admit, I don’t know what it looks like to “eat the produce of the land.” But I am aware the manna has ceased. And there is a different way yet to be lived. 

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