Partaking (Thanksday #80)

I was out running early this morning, while the dew was still on the ground. And I thought more about how the manna fell with the dew in the night (Numbers 11:9). And I thought about how the dew leaves everything so wet and hydrates the grass and the plants and the flowers, and how the manna fell with the dew.

Isn’t just like to God to send daily bread with water? Throughout scripture it’s always the bread and the water, the bread and the water, the bread and the water. Physically we can’t survive on just bread and we can’t survive on just water — it’s a balance of the two. Always. And spiritually it’s the same thing. We daily have to get our daily bread — the word — and drink the living water — Jesus.

Always. Both. Together.

Eat this bread, for it is My body, broken for you. Drink this blood, for it was shed for the forgiveness of your sins.

Always. Both. Together.

And so when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it.

Always. Both. Together.

Bread and water — the two most basic needs for our survival as humans, and the two most basic needs for survival as Christians on this earth.

 “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” – Jesus

Always. Both. Together.

The Bread was pierced in His side and at once came out blood and water.

Always.

Both.

Together.

I’m thankful for this today.

What are you thankful for this week?

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Blowing

Remember when you were a child, and you’d run barefoot in the grass searching for dandelions? And it brought such simple delight, to feel the grass in your toes and the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, to search for these gems? And if you found them while they were still yellow, you’d pick a whole bunch of them to bring home to Mommy and Daddy, just proud as can be? And we knew Mommy and Daddy were touched by our sentiment but didn’t realize we were bringing them weeds?

And if you found them when they had already turned, you’d pick it and close your eyes and make a wish and watch each whisper of the dandelion float along with the wind and into the future?

Those were the purest of times, when our imaginations were vibrant and unending and our dreams were bigger than our present.

At what age do our imaginations lose their color and the limitations start to appear and our dreams get smaller and smaller? Because as children we delighted in the dandelion, and now as a parent I am one of the ones to see it as a weed. But Jesus said to be like the little children to enter the kingdom.

The dandelion is an amazing metaphor to our Christian life:

  • It’s a perennial plant, lasting for an indefinitely long time; enduring; perpetual; everlasting; continuing; recurrent — as is our relationship to Christ and our life after death.
  • The leaves of the dandelion will grow back if the tap root is left in tact — Jesus is our tap root.
  • The seeds dispersed from the plant rapidly colonize the surrounding soil — just like our lives should be a witness to those surrounding us. 
  • After flowering is finished, the dried petals and stamens drop off — as do our sin nature and ungodly characteristics.
  • The bracts then curve backwards and the parachute ball opens into a full sphere — just when we feel we are the most broken, we become something new.
  • Finally the seed-parachutes expand and lift out — we go into our communities and into all the world and bring the seed of the Word to those around us.

Can that really just be a weed?

And the other day as I was running, I couldn’t shake the image of the dandelion. And the sky was as blue as a flame, the air was crisp, the afternoon sun was shining low through the trees and illuminating the color changes beginning to take place. The breeze was gentle and as I crested the top of a hill, my heart was so full I couldn’t help but stop and cry.

Because I realized that we are the weeds. We are dandelions that grow pretty and yellow but then are broken and hollow out into empty shells of what we once were. And we’re growing wild in the middle of the pretty world that doesn’t want us and sees us as a nuisance, and right before we’re about to wither and die, Jesus runs barefoot in the dew to us and delights in us when He finds us. And He gathers us up — us, His manna — and takes a deep breath and blows and makes something of us. And He puts us in a bunch and proudly presents us to His Daddy, who thinks we’re just as beautiful as His Son does, and puts us on display. And then He makes a wish for a future and a hope and we float along with His wind — the Spirit — and into the future He’s planned in advance for us. And His imaginations towards us are vibrant and unending and His dreams our bigger than our present.

I’m working on something…something that involves the dandelion and inspires us to be still and to be free and to be the weed. And it’s so incredibly exciting and I can’t share the details of it yet, but it’s coming soon. Will you pray for me as Jesus takes a deep breath and blows and makes something of me?

Be the weed today. Stop seeing yourself as ugly and unwanted and unnecessary, but rather see yourself as a determined plant who has firmly decided to bloom where you’re planted. One that Jesus Himself delights in and runs to barefoot in the grass, smile wide and eyes bright, because He delights in you.

Running (Thanksday #79)

The breakfasts were ready and the lunches were packed and the backpacks sat by the front door ready to go. I kissed little heads goodbye and kissed the scruffy cheek goodbye and left to gather up my manna for today and run.

The weather was crisp and breeze was cool and the leaves have already started turning colors a little bit here in the mountains. And I jogged along, my breathing shallow and loud and I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. No music, no distractions. I didn’t look even once at my phone to see what my pace was or what time it was or how much distance I had covered. For the first time, I decided to just enjoy it. And I discovered that the birds chirp louder before 10 am and the cicadas are still here singing their songs and the dew stays wet longer on the left side of this particular road and if someone were to hear me run they’d worry I’m about to collapse. And there was some blue sky and some gray clouds and I noticed too that the leaves that have started changing color are brightest against the gray sky, not the blue.

And that’s what I made out of my manna today: It’s the backdrop of gray and rain and discouragement and disappointment that makes the colors of our true character shine the brightest, not the sunny days when everything looks wonderful.

What I love most about running isn’t the actual exercise but everything else that goes with it. The time totally alone and to myself and the fresh air and the sunshine. With each pounding step I take, my thoughts shake to the surface of my brain and escape into the air, and the ridiculous and mundane thoughts get skimmed off and the good stuff sticks around and takes root. The stuff God shows me and the stuff I learn about myself and the stuff I see in His creation — that’s the stuff that sticks.

Today marked three weeks of starting running again, and while I’m so very, very far from the half-marathon training runs I used to do, I noticed the past few runs have been smoother. I’m getting stronger and a little bit faster and I’m running more than I’m walking. And today was the first time I got to the top of the big hill and didn’t have to stop to catch my breath…I was able to just keep moving on. And for the past few runs, it’s actually felt really, really good to run and I’ve felt like I could go on forever. That’s what I like to call “progress.”

I’m thankful for legs that are strong enough to carry me for two-mile runs. I’m thankful for a husband who’s willing and supportive and does what he can to make it possible for me to pursue the things that excite me, like running. I’m thankful to live in a gorgeous part of the country where it looks and feels like fall in the fall, and that each week I get to see the progression of the season a little more at a time, up close and personal. And I’m thankful that God speaks to me when I’m there.

What are you thankful for this week?

Gathering (Thanksday #78)

The Israelites were grumpy and complaining and shaking their measly fists at God asking why, why had He brought them to the wilderness to die of hunger? And the Lord saw their need and supplied for them and said they would see the glory of the Lord in the morning. And He rained down bread from heaven and the glory was to be seen when the bread was rained down.

And so when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it (Numbers 11:9).

The Israelites woke up the first morning and stretched with the sun and saw the dew laying around the camp. And when the dew went up, they saw it. The manna. And they didn’t know what it was. It was like coriander seed and the taste of it was like wafers made of honey (Exodus 16:31) and the appearance was like bdellium (Numbers 11:7) but they couldn’t specifically identify it. So they called it What Is It. Manna.

And the Lord tells them each one to gather as much as he can eat. And so they go around the camp after the dew is gone and gather up the What Is It before the sun could melt it. And there was no lack for any one of them. And each morning for 40 years (Exodus 16:35) they woke out of their tents and stretched with the sun and waited for the dew to go up. And they gathered their What Is It, enough for that day.

God rained it down What Is It while they were asleep — tucked nicely into their tents sleeping and resting and gaining strength for their bodies. And while they slept, God set to the business of sending down What Is It. And when they woke up and they walked out of their tents and set out to gather their What Is It  and bring it back to their camps. And they then ground it in handbills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil (Numbers 11:8).

This imagery is glued to me. Every single night, God showers down His manna to me. I might not know what it is. It might be like something I know and taste like something I’m familiar with and appear like something I’m comfortable with, but I might not be able to identify it clearly. But it’s there. And it’s His glory. And like the Israelites, it’s my job to wake up and get out of my tent and before the sun gets too hot, go gather it and grind it or beat it and boil it and make something of it.

Did your breath catch in your throat like it did mine?

Each night while we sleep and gain strength for the next day, God has rained down and provided to us exactly what we need for that day. But it’s up to us to go and gather it and make something edible and tasty and satisfying out of it. Every. single. morning. Long term. For forty years, or even more.

It’s incredible. Sleep, wake, gather, make. Sleep, wake, gather, make. It’s a beautiful partnership, our relationship with God. I’m so thankful for His provision and His trust in me that I can make something with what He’s given me today.

What are you thankful for this week?