If you've kept up with my recent activity on Lifestyle Rant, you know that this is the third part of a series I'm calling "In the Darkest Corner of the World". Analyzing my trip to India within the past posts, (Part One here and Part Two here for those of you who need a lil catching up) I've gone through some logistics as well as a couple hardships that emerged from the experience. And in those two posts, there was a common idea that there are very real and heavy issues out there in the world, and those issues- if taken the time to digest- can effect us and our perspective on our own difficulties here in the United States. And in the same light, things like death, assault, depression, and anxiety exist all over the world but- as I dissected in my last post- God, His relentless love, and His overflowing grace also roam the depths of this dark world.
Now, when it came down to writing this concluding post, I have to admit I hit some writer's block. Questioning the focus, I wondered whether I finish off by talking about the children and the joy they had, or wrap up with a short anecdote from the trip. I was at a loss. What could I possibly write about that could connect my third world exploits to my first world friends' lives?
And then, amidst my brainstorming, God redirected me to a teaching I heard while I was there. And freaking fireworks went off y'all.
The idea of the talk was focused around Exodus 16. Specifically, we closed in on Exodus 16:33 where "Moses said to Aaron, "Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come."".
An analogy was crafted from this scene, that just as a jar of manna was placed in the tabernacle to serve as a reminder that God provides for his children, there are moments in our own lives that we take and store up in our head. "Manna moments" as the teacher called them, are times in our life that hold significance to us, times that we put in a jar and place on shelves in the back of our brains.
These memories can vary on the spectrum from good to bad. Whether they are memories of a peaceful season or a season full of anxiety and depression, a day where everything fell perfectly into place or a day when everything fell apart, a relationship that was fruitful or a relationship that was abusive- the ultimate truth is that we have them, that they are there.
Now at this point, you're probably starting to rack your brain for that shelf of manna. I know when I first heard this talk, I was reminded of my own manna moments. Times when clouds hung low over my head, when I would go into the night praying that I wouldn't have to see the rising light. Times when I was addicted to my phone, when my fingers reached for the snapchat and Instagram icons in hopes of gaining value from 2D friends. Times when life was easy, when the end of the world was if I couldn't watch another hour of spongebob or iCarly because my 7pm bedtime was nearing. Times when I was serving the Lord in a foreign country, when the sides of my eyes and the corners of my mouth were pinned back as I gazed upon a crowd of children turning in circles while screaming about how Heaven is a wonderful place.
And what's so special about these moments is that they tell us a lot. If it was an obstacle that you overcame, that moment can reveal your limits (physically, mentally, emotionally, or even spiritually). If it was a bad relationship, that moment can reveal flaws. If it was overcoming something or someone, that moment can reveal strength.
Reminiscing on those manna moments, it's easy to get caught up in seeing how good God is and how He worked in your life. In fact, if I may be so romantic to say, it's quite a beautiful response. Looking at everything you've gone through and understanding the inner workings of those experiences- like how a certain type of person is bad for you, or how God can pull you out of a hard situation, or how God can give you some incredible blessings- is a really healthy and beneficial thing to do because you're finding out (maybe not completely, but partly) why God allowed for things to happen in your life, therefore gaining a new thankfulness and faith for God's plan.
But as the saying goes, too much of a good thing is bad.
While in this talk I learned that we should have these manna moments clear in our minds so that when hard times come, we have something to base our faith off of, I also learned that those moments shouldn't be overanalyzed, creating restriction on God's power in our minds.
As I said before, "It's easy to get caught up in seeing how good God is and how He worked in your life." Key words, 'easy to get caught up'.
As humans, we tend to doubt. When attempting to peer through the fogginess that is the future, it's hard to know for sure what's to occur. We might get glimpses, but overall, we aren't given much. And being the impatient people we are, we rely on our own knowledge- the past. Looking to the past for guidance, it's easy to get caught up in how things happened. We think that because God brought me through this way, he'll bring me through that way, because He gave me this relationship, He's going to give me a new relationship that's the same or is maybe just a little better.
We take our manna moments and limit God. By saying that the future will look like X and Y because X and Y happened two years ago, we pretty much are saying that God is only capable of X and Y, not taking a step back to see that he has a whole alphabet full of twists and turns. (Which is something I find myself guilty of doing.)
Manna moments may be good to pull when you need to renew your faith, when you need to give advice to someone on a similar path, or when you simply want to take a step back and thank God for what he has done.
But to whoever is reading this, I pray that you never limit the power of God.
I mean, to even just put it in perspective for you, the same hands that motioned for the Son to rise from death are reaching out for your heart before your heavy eyes even peal open in the morning.
His work in your life is just barely even starting.
I know every post I've kind of ended by creatively pulling the title "In the Darkest Corner of the World" together with the main idea of the post. And so I guess to wrap up, I just want to say that there's hard stuff out there. I'm not going to pretend to be a thoughtless person and push the facts to the side as if they doesn't exist and I hope you won't be one and do so either. In fact, I would even go so far as to challenge the idea that some of the hardest stuff even lies within ourselves, within our own fragile skeletons. Which is pretty scary to think about.
But there is a God out there that is so real and so big. My team and I felt Him in what we believed was the darkest corner of the world and I feel Him now as the blood of His Son runs through my veins, pumping fuel into my fingertips to write out words that our society so desperately needs to read.
So I pray that whenever and wherever this post reaches you, you would read these words that you so desperately need to hear. You may feel as though you're within the darkest corner of the world right now or you may feel as though you are soaring far away from it and into His arms. But either way, don't rely on your own knowledge, on what limits the past had. By trusting in Him, you can spend so much more time experiencing the present as well as being optimistic of the unknown of tomorrow. Accepting both fully as they come.