That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.'”
The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed.
Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”
However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.
Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much–two omers for each person–and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.'”
So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it.
“Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a Sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.” Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” So the people rested on the seventh day. – Exodus 16:13-30 (NIV)
Getting your children to trust you can be an epic chore sometimes. They can be very sure of their perception of things and be very unsure of what mommy and daddy try to tell them. The process of earning their trust is one we will go through numerous times, but it would be good for us to keep in mind that God goes through the same process with us. The passage above is a clear indication of how stubborn humanity can be even in the face of God’s goodness and providence.
We are going to have manna and quail moments with our children. We are going to be frustrated that they still behave as if we are not on their side, or don’t care about them or don’t want them to succeed. They will say hurtful and uninformed things about us and our motivations. They will act in ways that seem disconnected from the way we treat them day after day after day. In the midst of all this, God is going through the same frustration with His children.
For God and us, this process of trust sits entirely with us. There is nothing God needs to prove, there is nothing He needs to change and there is nothing He owes us. However, as parents we need to empathize with our children and approach their growth and struggles with humility. We aren’t perfect and therefore have no right to expect it from anyone else, especially our children.
Next time I am about to nitpick one of my children, I hope God brings the manna and quail to mind. When the time comes and I am about to enter into a diatribe on respect and obedience, I pray that God will cause me to pause and re-evaluate the situation. Lord, help me to be a voice of patience, grace and wisdom into my children’s lives. Amen.