Manna from Heaven

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Daily Bread. It’s a phrase I’ve heard so many times that I hardly think about it anymore. However, yesterday as I was reading to the girls, I was struck anew with an ancient truth.

So there we were, sitting around the breakfast table, when I pulled out the giant story Bible we’ve been reading. The title of the story for the day was “Manna from Heaven”. In case you don’t know, or don’t remember the story, you can look it up in Exodus 16. God’s people are wandering in the wilderness and they’re hungry. They complain and God gives Moses the plan for what’s to happen next. He sends bread from heaven with the morning dew. Each day the people are supposed to collect enough food for the day, no more and no less. The next day God sends the bread again. And again. On the sixth day, the people are told to gather twice as much as they need for one day, because the next day is a day of rest and there won’t be any new manna. Some people do as they are told, but some don’t trust God. They gather more than enough manna (or they gather just enough but don’t eat it all) and they save some for the next day. In the morning it stinks and it’s full of worms. Then Day Six rolls around and, again, some of the people do as they are supposed to and others disobey and only collect enough for one day. The seventh day comes and those who didn’t collect extra just don’t have any food. The ones who saved their extra overnight wake up to find it not stinking and not full of worms this time. When I read this story I often wonder if it’s the same people who disobey God in each incident or if it’s different people – the ones who don’t trust God to provide again, the ones who don’t trust God to keep His word, or maybe some who are just bad at listening to directions.

God still provides for His people. Sometimes it’s money. He provides enough for everything He wants us to have, no more, no less. When Dan was in school we didn’t have a lot of money. We lived on what we had and God took care of us. When He got his first “real” job, we were so excited about the huge increase in our income. Then we had to move out of cheap, subsidized, campus housing and into a condo in Ann Arbor. That hurt the freshly filled bank account. Then came medical bills with our second baby. That hurt too. For a while I was a little down about that.

“Just when we start making a little more, then all these bills come in and it’s all gone.”

But God showed me differently. He had provided two days worth of manna for the time when we would need it. “Just before the bills came in, God gave us more so that we would be able to pay them.”

It has happened again and again in our lives, and not just with money. Sometimes it’s other material things. Sometimes it’s feeling God’s presence or getting time alone with Dan or having some peace in our home before something crazy happens. No matter what, He just wants us to trust that He will provide what we need, when we need it, but no more and no less. And, at least in my experience, He tends to provide in such a way and in such timing that keep me dependent on Him.

If God is truly the God of our lives, our time, our bodies, and our bank accounts, it’s also important that we ask Him how to be spending these things.

A couple of months ago Paul was about to run out of clothes. He was getting bigger and we just didn’t have any bigger boy clothes. Most of our baby clothes (we have half a room full right now!) are pink and purple with bows and ruffles. We could have run straight to the store and picked out some really cute baseball-themed pajamas, but one of us had the idea to pray and ask God first. So we did, We prayed something like, “God, our money is yours. If you want us to go buy clothes for Paul we are happy to do so, but if you want us to use this money for something else, please provide the clothing he needs”. Then we waited.

A couple of weeks later we took a trip up North. Dan’s mom surprised us with a dozen like-new garage sale outfits for Paul, in the right sizes. My mom surprised me with a trip to Kohl’s and treated the kids and me to a new outfit each. On our way home, one of our dear friends handed over two diaper boxes full of little boy clothes. The picture up above is of Paul on our walk this morning, decked out entirely in clothing that was given to us by a family from church, my mom, Dan’s mom, and one of our friends.

I used to think that God only provided for people who didn’t have enough. I thought that anyone who had a large enough income was already provided for by their job, that they should thank God for their job and budget away. I have recently been realizing that there is far greater blessing in asking God how we should use our resources and then being obedient. Then He will provide the manna we need for one day, or two days, but no more and no less.

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The Story of Dan’s New Job

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A few week ago, Dan started a new job. I wanted to share this as a testimony of God’s provision and answers to our prayers concerning Dan’s work over the years we have been married so far. I believe this is only the beginning…

When Dan and I got married, we were both finishing college. Dan was working part time as a math tutor on campus with only foggy ideas about his career. He had considered ministry, but more recently, and after prayer, felt God wanted him to pursue a Master’s degree. So, Dan finished up his last semester and started a Master’s degree in math just as Lydia was born and spent her time in the NICU.

As a Master’s student, Dan was able to teach some classes and continued tutoring until summer. That summer, hours were low and we were preparing to live on our lowest budget yet, when Dan was offered an internship at a small engineering company in Ann Arbor. So, God provided the first real job of our married life.

Dan’s internship turned into a full-time job, but during that time Dan’s aspirations changed. He came home one night and said to me, “I think I want to start a business”.

I was doubtful but didn’t say much and just listened as he explained further. Over the next several months I came around and together we brainstormed countless business ideas. (My favorite was to publish a book entitled: 100 Businesses I Didn’t Start but You Should) Investing all of our future hopes into starting a business, while working in someone else’s business turns out to be quite challenging, and trying on the whole family. When Dan’s job ran out of work for him at the beginning of the year, it was a bittersweet transition.

Should he start a business now?

Should he try to change to a different field?

Should he get a PhD (this has been constantly under consideration over the past few years)?

What next???

We prayed and prayed and Dan applied and applied. He was eventually offered a job as a software engineer at a young, but growing, company in Ann Arbor. The day he accepted the job I was devastated, convinced that he would be stuck programming for the rest of his life dreaming of businesses that he would never start.

Through it all, we continued to pray. We prayed for wisdom and guidance, and we prayed that God would provide a more fitting, enjoyable job for Dan.

The software job wasn’t all that bad. It wasn’t nearly as mathy or intellectual as Dan would have preferred, but the company invested in a ping pong table and the ping pong seemed to make everything a little better. Eventually I stopped asking Dan, “How was work?” and started asking, “How did ping pong go?”

We kept praying.

Then one day, so gradually and unexpectedly that I can hardly remember it, a small start-up contacted Dan on linked-in. While he was interested in their offer, he didn’t think he stood a chance at landing the job, so he didn’t even mention the upcoming interview with me until it came up during a Skype chat with his mom.

During the interview, Lydia and I prayed. We prayed mostly that, if this was a job God wanted for Dan, that he would land it whether he was qualified or not.

Dan came home that evening and told me they wanted a second interview.

The scene repeated itself. I don’t remember how many interviews Dan had, but it felt like a lot. Each time he would come home surprised and tell me they wanted to talk to him again. Each time he would insist he didn’t think he stood a chance at landing the job. Each time I became more and more convinced that maybe this really was a job God wanted Dan to take.

The day came for the final interview, but they didn’t get back to him right away. They didn’t get back to him the next day either. The next day, during the afternoon, I felt a strong urge to go and pray about the job. I spent a few minutes praying for the company, praying that Dan would be on their minds all day, praying that he would be the right match, praying that they would choose him. And when Dan came home that night he told me that they had.

We were in the middle of buying a house and skeptical about starting a new job. We didn’t want to do anything to slow down the housing process, but closing was almost a month away and the new company wanted Dan to start immediately. We talked it over with our mortgage lender and eventually decided Dan should start…that Monday. And he did.

This is the first time Dan has to check the clock to make sure he leaves work on time. It’s the first time he is invested and interested in the product. We love it. Protean is a small start-up, so they can’t offer all of the benefits of an established company, but they can offer other fun perks like generous vacation time and free lunches every day.

So now, Dan is a data analyst for the company called Protean. Their product, which they hope to launch later this year, is basically an all-in-one credit card that works with an iPhone app to hold all of your credit and store loyalty cards (anything you swipe, really). Dan’s job is to sort through all sorts of data and make meaningful graphs to display that data and help the company make good decisions.

Sometimes, when I need the car, we drop Dan off at work in the morning and pick him up at the end of the day. The girls and I have gotten to meet a lot of his coworkers and we’ve spent a little time lounging in the work area while we wait for Dan to finish. Lydia is already making friends for herself.

We don’t know if this job will last for one year or twenty, and we don’t know where God will lead us next. But after about three years of praying and waiting and wondering, we have seen God answer this prayer for a good (enjoyable) job for Dan, and we want to give Him the credit and the praise. (Even if there’s no ping pong 🙂 )

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6