As a wife, I try to be a kind help to my husband. As a mother, I try hard to nurture, instruct, and provide for my children. As a daughter, I look for ways to encourage and help my parents and my in-laws. As a sister, I seek to serve and bless others. While, I’m sure you would agree, these labors are good and worthwhile, it could be that they are not all excellent – they may not be the things that I am called to do in this season of life.
Most of us can relate to these sometimes-competing responsibilities. It’s easy to get caught up in the seemingly endless number of things we can be pursuing – and we try so hard! We try hard to be prepared, and see the needs in advance – we work everyday for those around us to have comfort, joy, and delight! Not too long ago, God began showing me some of my errors when approaching decisions about these callings. He used a story that some of us are familiar with from the Old Testament…
One of the more famous recordings of God’s teaching the Israelites a lesson in obedience and faith while they wandered through the wilderness was when He provided their sole means of nourishment through sending manna each day down from the sky. Manna was bread. With God’s gift of this bread from heaven came some stipulations of how they were to collect and use the manna.
One of these conditions was that they were not supposed to glean more manna than they could use that day. Contrary to God’s clear instruction, the Israelites tried their best to preserve the manna. They gathered more than their share for the day. They were trying so hard to be prepared for tomorrow that they put their efforts into storing up the heavenly goodness (sound familiar?). But, as the account records, their labors were found to be full of worms, literally! The manna that they stored up for the next day had spoiled! God had laid out His plan, but the Israeilites thought they could try harder – could improve on it. All that the Israelites needed to do was trust and simply obey. They would have had enough.
I’m sure that when I trivialize God’s instruction and fail to obey, my labors often end up as spoiled manna. They become foul. They breed worms and stink. Well, this is pretty much the place where God stopped me – just as the Israelites were doing something seemingly good in gathering extra manna for future needs, I had been focusing too much on what more I could be doing, instead of simply what God had called me to do.
All of my efforts to do the right thing are spoiled manna unless I listen to God’s voice! Trying hard, of course, isn’t bad or wrong, but if it isn’t what God is calling me to do – if I’m not walking in obedience, then all I have to offer stinks.
My friend, I pray for both of us, that we listen to God’s voice as we labor in our callings!
with love. Damaris