As we approach the half way mark of our summer as S.D. Allen missionaries, I am speechless at the countless ways Jesus has revealed himself to me through mission work in Tuscaloosa. From my coworkers to the kids at the backyard Bible clubs, I have met people that I know I will call a friend long after the end of this summer. And, if I’m being honest, that is not at all what I expected to happen.
In Exodus 16, God sends manna from heaven to the Israelites as their sustenance in the wilderness. The word manna is similar to the Hebrew expression for “What is it?” because the Israelites were unfamiliar with this type of food. It is interesting that God chooses not to send pots of meat or bundles of crops from heaven, things the Israelites might have expected to be necessary for survival, but instead sends what He knows is beneficial for His people. And just like the Israelites, I am learning that what God has planned for me is also better, good and holy.
At our program Summer Hope in Rosedale, we broke out into small groups to pray. I had two of the quieter kids in the group, Jordan and Darian, so I was doubtful they were going to get anything out of this experience. My expectations dictated my attitude, and I allowed myself to predict the outcome of our prayer time before it even happened. But God took what I thought was going to be an awkward interaction and turned it into an intimate, spirit-filled moment. The boys shared their struggles with family and the immense responsibility they had at home. I was able to pray for them, and then Jordan asked me if there was anything I needed prayer for in my life. That is the moment I knew God is working in the hearts of these children in a divine manner that comes from something far greater than any set expectation or plan we could have made for the summer.
God is also teaching me to surrender to Him the things I do have the power to control. From my demeanor in the morning to who I choose to sit by at lunch, all situations can glorify the Lord. Instead of clinging to comfort, God calls us to cling to Him and with that trust comes an invitation for the Lord to intervene. I am careful to say I don’t believe we as Christians should use God’s plan as an excuse to remain idle and not make decisions because I think that undermines the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), but I do believe we have to have an open mind and heart that is willing to surrender every aspect of our lives to God even when our circumstances and emotions point us to what we believe is best. I think we often expect to be alone in the mundane moments of life because we limit God to the “big” moments, but God is constantly active.
The truth is that we are given sustenance and a path is laid before us not through manna but through Jesus Christ, the bread of life, who has redeemed and conquered our sin. Jesus says in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst”. So I would encourage you to abandon what you think limits you in life and surrender your expectations to Jesus knowing in Him there is life and through Him we can do immeasurably more.