In Egypt we could eat all the fish we wanted, and there were cucumbers, melons, onions, and garlic. But we’re starving out here,
and the only food we have is this manna.Numbers 11:4-6 CEV
Way, way back in the day, while trailing through the desert on their long, long journey to the Promised Land, the Israelites gathered manna for food. They were commanded only to gather what they needed for that day. People being people, some tried to hoard it to save themselves a day of scrounging in the dirt. Later when they went for a snack, they found a moldy, inedible mess. They were told to collect double on Friday to see them through the Sabbath day of rest. And of course some went looking for manna when God said there wouldn't be any and came away empty. And because the chosen people are people just like us, there was the inevitable, recurrent bellyaching about the bland fare God had given them to eat.
Through it all, God patiently dealt with them, disciplined them, and trained them to trust Him for provision each and every day. It was for their good and ours too, for He was setting an example for us to follow. God also wants to feed us each day—not just physically, but spiritually as well. The amazing story of how God touched me 'that time at the revival meeting' works great as a memorial, but I can't maintain an active spiritual life with that. To truly live, I must eat, and only what is fresh will nourish me. We need our Father to touch us with His presence, His love, and His guidance every day. That is the example of Jesus, who frequently went to pray alone. He sometimes spent all night in prayer. He wasn't demonstrating His piety—Jesus knew He needed immersion in His Father's love to fulfill what He was called to do. Refreshed and refilled with the Spirit each day, Jesus knew who He was, where to go, what to do, and received the power to do it.
As heirs of God we too have the resources of heaven at our disposal, accessed by the Spirit of God. We too can eat what God provides fresh each day, gaining the spiritual nutrients necessary to strengthen and sustain us. Each day we can experience His presence, an evidence of our adoption, a tangible confirmation that we truly belong to Him. Each day we can eat the same spiritual food Jesus did while on Earth. That is good, encouraging news.
God's wonderful Holy Spirit comforts us with peace in troubling times; gives us power to resist the enemy; illuminates Scripture; warns us when we stray; and guides us when we do not know the way. His presence is a quiet voice, a loving touch, a firm nudge, and a kick in the pants, when needed. God's presence puts the real in reality, anchoring us to our faith in ways that simple book learning cannot. Food for our souls indeed!
Scripture is necessary to feed and renew my mind but isn't enough. Simply accumulating knowledge can lead to arrogance (I Corin. 8:1). Bible knowledge must always lead to God Himself, for He didn't send His Son in order to have a cadre of Bible scholars; He came to create a family of sons and daughters. I must have confirmation that I am God's child, His beloved, His own, and that comes from the Spirit's touch. Then God breathes on His words so that I am not just ingesting information, but a burning reality which indelibly marks my soul.
The world loudly advertises a tempting buffet for the hungry, but it's mostly empty calories. Spiritual life cannot come from such food. When I am feeling famished and weak, I want to quickly remember that my Father provides fresh, nourishing manna each and every day on my desert sojourn. Just like the ancient Israelites, I must trust God when He say, Eat this. That food, freely given from above will sustain me, if I will simply take the time to eat it.
"You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you
in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you,
to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments
or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna
which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you
understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives
by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord."