Hannah watched the sun peak its head above the mountains. Down on her knees, she scooped up a handful of wafers from the cracked ground.
“Remember,” her mother said, “today we gather extra so we have enough for tomorrow.”
“But won’t the stuff go bad?” Hannah watched the white flakes fall through her fingers as she dropped them into her basket. “That happened to my friend’s family when they gathered extra yesterday. She told me they will gather tomorrow just in case.”
“We must obey what God told Moses. Each day of the week we gather just enough for that day, but on the sixth day we gather extra. That way we can enjoy a day of rest on the last day of the week.”
“But what if we go hungry tomorrow?”
“Hannah, has God failed us yet? Has he given us any reason to doubt his provision? He has given us the Sabbath as a gift, and we can trust that he will meet our needs.”
Hannah sat up and felt the sun warm her cheeks. She closed her eyes, cupped her hands near her face, and breathed in the honey-scented manna.
In the Old Testament, God required his people to take a day off from work—the Sabbath. He commanded them not to gather manna on the Sabbath. He forced them to rest.
Required. Commanded. Forced. Words that sound like a mean, controlling God actually reveal a loving, caring God. God described the Sabbath as his gift to the people of Israel (Exodus 16:29). He loved and cared for them so much that he gave them a day to enjoy.
He required them to take a day off from work because he wanted them to dedicate the day to him. He commanded them not to gather manna on the Sabbath because he wanted them to trust that he would provide for them. He forced them to rest because he wanted them to focus on him. God loved, so God gave.
Although we as Christians do not follow the Old Testament law, the principles of the Sabbath still hold true today. Amid the busyness of our world, it seems impossible to take a day—even a minute—off from work. But when we get too focused on our work, our daily tasks, or our to-do list, we—like the Israelites—try to gather manna on the wrong day. We try to control our time and lose focus on God.
We forget that God loves and cares for us. He wants to gift us with his presence by spending time with him. He desires that we dedicate time to him, that we trust that he will provide for us, and that we focus on him.
In the busyness, take a moment to stop. Trust that he will help you get through the day. Trust that he will provide for you. And dedicate that moment to him. Focus on him. Rest and enjoy him.
About The Author
Jennifer Matenaer is a student at Dallas Theological Seminary pursuing her MA in Media Arts & Worship. Upon graduation, she and her husband plan to minister in a small-town context as rural church planters. Through writing both fiction and nonfiction, Jennifer seeks to remind and encourage readers that they are God’s creative image-bearers with a story to tell. Find more from her at jennifermatenaer.com.