Thursday, November 04, 2010

Grace is Like Manna

Yesterday, I survived my first major outing with both my boys (side note: can I just say, it's fun to say "my boys" :) . I didn't even have to do it by myself--my sweet mother-in-law is here for the week, so she helped me take them to the pediatrician for Jude's first well-baby visit, then treated me to Panera (Fuji apple chicken salad--yum!) for lunch.

I already feel completely overwhelmed at the idea of taking both of them anywhere by myself--especially anywhere we have to arrive at a specific time.

I've been blessed after the birth of both boys to have amazing postpartum help. My mom comes down immediately and stays for a week, then Steve's mom comes and stays for a week. I'm able to really rest and let my body recover while they cook, clean, take care of laundry, and help care for the kids. I don't take this for granted; I realize not everyone has this kind of help, and I'm beyond thankful.

My mother-in-law flies home on Saturday, and it's easy to feel scared of what life will look like after that. How will I do when I don't get to sleep an extra couple of hours with the baby while someone else gets up with Elijah and gets him breakfast? How will I handle the relentless demands of two children's needs? (And how on earth are my friends who have kids the same age as mine PLUS another in between managing at all?!)

When these thoughts creep up, I have to return to one of the most profound and lasting lessons I gleaned this summer from Ed Welch's books. To prepare for childbirth, I read Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest and the related study guide, When I Am Afraid. In them, Welch spends a lot of time on (and keeps coming back to) the story of the Israelites receiving manna in the wilderness, as the foundational story for why we can trust God and not worry about the future. He says:
...the manna he sends for them to eat does more than just feed them. It also teaches them. First, it teaches them to act on the grace God gives today by collecting the manna and enjoying it. Second, it teaches them to trust him for tomorrow. Every night they go to bed with empty cupboards. Every morning they wake up wondering whether the manna will be on the ground. Every morning it is.

...Anxiety and worry are always off in the future. They are scouts on the frontier. They run ahead and spy on the enemy. When they return they tell tales of bloodthirsty giants, an enemy army that extends to the horizon, insurmountable odds, and sure defeat. These spies, you see, have been commissioned to always envision the worst-case scenario.

Your task is to denounce those alarmist spies and instead adopt the story of manna because it is, indeed, your story. Last night manna wasn't on the ground. You wake up, and there it is. It is everything you need for today.

Can you understand why you worry when you think about tomorrow? You worry because you don't have what you need yet. If you imagine tomorrow's misery without tomorrow's manna, of course you are going to worry. Tomorrow's manna isn't on the ground yet. You have manna for today only. In his great wisdom, God doesn't give you tomorrow's manna today. Otherwise you would forget him and trust in yourself.
There's no such thing as imaginary grace! Future circumstances feel overwhelming, even impossible, because you don't yet have the grace to handle them. When God brings them, He'll also bring the grace you need to face them.

This is the truth I preach to myself several times a day. When I am tempted to run ahead and fret about what tomorrow will look like, I try to remember to look back instead. God has lavished His grace on me over the last few weeks (not to mention the whole of my life!). I can trust Him to provide the grace I will need tomorrow (or even for the next feeding in a few hours). But He will provide that grace tomorrow, and not a moment before. Today my work is to trust Him, to focus on what is before me and leave the next thing in His loving, merciful hands.


Jamie said...

Not a moment before. And never too late! :)

Newburgs said...
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Newburgs said...

I also LOVE to say, "my boys!" It has a great "ring" to it. I am two months into this multiple children gig and I am also afraid to travel too far or to go to the grocery for more than 1 thing. You aren't alone! You will be great! P.S. this is Shanna! :)

Danielle said...

Great post! You are indeed blessed to have two weeks of mama/MIL help! I was so nervous the first day Josh went back from work. He was off for a week when Sophia was born. I was so scared! But the day was actually delightful. I think God just gave me that day to boost my confidence! Have there been bad days since. Absolutely. Actually, the past 3 days have been some of the worst. But his grace is there, it really is.

Danielle said...

That would be when "Josh went back TO work." And I'm missing a ? in there. Well, you can tell I am still sleep deprived! :)

zz said...

Praying for you as you look forward to Monday's manna. It will be there. It will. You don't have to expect much of yourself; God wants us to expect much of Him! He never runs out of anything.

Brenna Kate Simonds, Living Unveiled said...

I love saying "my boys" too :) I love being a mom to boys!