Tag Archives: Manna

Picky Eaters in the Desert


picky eaterMy Mother, the stoic, had an expression that she used on us when we were children.  She would say, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”  When we didn’t like the sensible, brown shoes in the hand-me-down bag, she would say that.  When we turned up our noses at leftovers for dinner, she would say that.  Somehow it didn’t make me feel any more grateful.

This week I had the opportunity to do the devotional in our morning assembly at school.  I was assigned the theme, “thankfulness.”  I started by asking the kids to raise their hands if they were picky eaters.  (My own children should have raise their hands.  I forgot to look and see if they did.)  Then I told the story about the Israelites, wandering in the wilderness, who dared to be picky.  If anyone deserved the title “beggars” it was them!

The Israelites had been delivered from slavery in Egypt.  They were set free in a blizzard of miracles from the 10 plagues to the parting of the Red Sea to the presence of God with them day and night as a pillar of cloud or fire.  They should have constantly been walking around with their mouths hanging open in amazement at all that God had done for them.  But no, they repeatedly forgot to be thankful.

So after a few months in the desert, their food ran out.  God did another miracle for them by giving them Manna, food from Heaven, every single day.  At first, they were thrilled.  The Manna tasted like flakes of honey.  It was delicious, healthy, versatile, free and abundant.  But after a while, they started to get bored with Manna.  Let me say that again, they got bored with the Miracle that happened every single day before their very eyes.  They forgot that without this miracle, they were beggars.  And beggars can’t be choosers.

That’s when the complaining began.  Once they started being ungrateful, the Manna no longer tasted sweet.  It tasted bland because their hearts were no longer joyful and full of thanks.  Their attitude affected their appetites.  They no longer hungered for the things of God.  They started looking back and hungering for the food in Egypt.  They forgot that as slaves, they would not have eaten like kings.  But they romanticized the past and complained about their present conditions.

They complained that they wanted meat.  So God got angry and decided to teach them a lesson.  He told Moses, “I’m going to give them so much meat that it will make them sick.  They will eat meat until it comes out their noses!”  God send a huge flock of quail into the camp.  They were thrilled at first!  But they quickly over stuffed themselves. Then they got sick and threw up.  The meat came out their noses just like God said it would.

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but once I got food poisoning from McDonalds.  I threw up for two days straight.  I haven’t eaten a chicken sandwich since!  That was enough to cure me of any McDonalds cravings for a long, long time.  The same thing happened to the Israelites.  They didn’t want meat after that.  And we heard no more grumbling about Manna for the next 40 years.  They finally accepted the fact that you can’t be a picky eater in the desert.  Better to be thankful than to pass a drumstick out your nostril.

I have my own little tribe of Israelites at home.  All of my children have been picky eaters (though the teenager has pretty much out grown that phase).  My youngest one just surprised me recently.  She went from an all noodles and cereal diet to suddenly agreeing to taste a bite of chicken.  The bribe was, she would eat a piece of chicken if I let her cut it with a knife.  So with my protecting hands over her little paws, we cut the chicken together and she held up her end of the bargain.  Then she declared, “I like it!”  I about died!  Five years of refusing to eat chicken and suddenly she likes it.  I felt like God looking down on his own picky eaters and breathing a sigh of relief.  Finally they are eating and not complaining.

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My Grandma said she’s getting a little leaky… it’s not what you think.


Josh bought me a new iPod a few years ago.  I really liked it, except that the battery never seemed to stay charged for as long as I thought it should.  After about 18 months, the thing died completely and would not be charged.  I looked everywhere on the darn thing and couldn’t find the little door where the battery could be replaced.  I thought, OK, maybe I have to bring it into the Apple store and let them replace the battery with a special tool or something.  Boy did I feel dumb when they told me that the battery COULD NOT  be replaced.  The iPod was meant to be disposed of after about 18 months, just thrown away, and then you buy a new one.  UNBELIEVABLE!

I had a hard time believing that in our day and age of Green-this and Reusable-that and Recycle-the-whole-world that this company just expected us to THROW AWAY our technology and BUY a new one every year or so.  But it is true.  The Apple company planned it that way to keep you coming back every 12-18 months for another purchase.  It’s called Planned Obsolescence.  And it’s an actual business technique promoted by the government (who else could be so dastardly?).

Interestingly enough, businesses didn’t start off thinking about making a crappy product in order to get you to buy more.  Have you ever said, “They just don’t make things like they used to”?  Well you’re right.  Things used to be made to last.  For example, The world’s oldest burning light bulb is in Fire Station #6 in Livermore, California.  The bulb, made by the Shelby Electric Company, has been burning steadily for 111 years (The Germans would have a coronary if that ever happened in Europe!).  It is in the Guinness Book of World Records.  The Shelby Electric Company built that bulb to last, but after a few years of declining sales someone said, “hey, if these bulbs don’t burn out sometime, we’re going to go out of business!”  At about that same time, the government was trying to boost unemployment.  They thought it was a good idea to make a law that says that things CAN’T last forever or else the economy would collapse.  So they passed a law forcing businesses to implement Planned Obsolescence to keep the workers employed.  (Here’s a Documentary called “The Light Bulb Conspiracy” explaining all this.)

It’s all part of a Grand Conspiracy Theory!  Think about it.  How can we have the technology to put a man on the moon, yet not be able to invent a nylon stocking that doesn’t run the first time you wear it?  How is that possible?  The answer is:  They are MADE TO RUN so you have to keep buying new pairs.  Same with your iPod, Apple has invented some of the greatest personal technology in the history of mankind… and they forgot to include a battery door on the iPod?  I don’t think so.  They want to keep you coming back for more.

Now what sounds like a devilish and devious conspiracy between government and big business actually has a Spiritual Application.  I propose that God is the “Mad Genius” behind Planned Obsolescence.  The idea originated with Him when he “invented” Mankind.  See, God rationalized that if He gave Man a spirit that could forever hold the Living Water that He alone provides, then Man would never need to come to Him to be refreshed and filled up again.  If filling the spirit is a one time thing, then we would never need to come seeking more of the Holy Spirit.  So he made the human spirit a little like a sieve.  As my Grandma used to say, “You have to keep reminding me, Honey.  I’m getting a little leaky.”  She meant that she wasn’t retaining things in her memory very well (I know that’s not what you were thinking).

This Spiritual Sieve that we possess was demonstrated physically in the Old Testament story of God providing Manna for the Children of Israel as they wandered around the wilderness for 40 years seeking the Promise Land.  God specifically told them NOT to try to save the Manna from one day to the next… it would spoil over night.  He told them that He would provide FRESH Manna Every.Single.Morning.  He was giving them a concrete, tactile image of how our spirits are MADE to be leaky.  We aren’t supposed to try to survive indefinitely on what God did for us yesterday or at summer camp or back in our youth group days.  He wants us to come to Him every day for fresh Manna, for a fresh Word, for strength for today.  We were designed to have leaky spirits, and like the Apple company who wants you to keep coming back for another iPod, God wants you to keep coming back for more of Him.

“He awakens me morning by morning, awakens my ear to hear like one being taught.”  Isaiah 50:4