By Leonard Lauriault
In the movie, Forrest Gump, Forrest’s shrimp boat partner, Lewtinint Dan gets mad because they haven’t found any shrimp. Lewtinint Dan begins cursing God and challenging him to show up.
Forrest, who’s narrating the story, says, “God showed up,” because at about that time a hurricane struck.
Shortly after crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites complained against God. There are several lessons for us in that account (read Exodus chapter 16 before reading the rest of this article; also, read all the scriptures cited).
First, we learn from Exodus 16 that God’s actually always around when we need him. There’s no place on earth we can not find God because he’s promised to never leave us (Psalm 139: 8-12; Hebrews 13: 5). God knows all our present and future physical, emotional, and spiritual needs even before we ask (or complain, like the Israelites). He’s often begun meeting our needs before we realize them (Matthew 6: 8, 25-34; Philippians 4: 19; Acts 17: 24, 25).
Further, unlike some of the Israelites, who feared God wouldn’t provide manna every day and then didn’t obediently prepare for the seventh day, we needn’t worry about tomorrow because by preparing our faith should be bolstered (Luke 14: 28-30; Matthew 25: 1-13; 2 Timothy 1: 12; 1 Corinthians 1: 7-9).
A second lesson from Exodus 16 is that God only provides on his own terms. Things only work right when we obey him; otherwise we make a mess. When the Israelites tried to keep the manna overnight, contrary to God command, it spoiled; however, when they put it in the jar, as God’s directed, it was preserved for generations to come.
Third, God’s provision always comes just at the right time; but, it’s a limited time offer. Taking advantage of God’s offer in God’s way on God’s timing is the only guarantee we have of salvation (2 Corinthians 6: 2; Romans 5: 6-10; Acts 17: 26, 27).
Finally, God cares about each little bird; but, we’re much more important to him (Luke 12: 6; John 3: 16). We should always seek first his will and not be ungrateful, remembering to acknowledge his providence (Philippians 4: 6; 2 Peter 1: 5-9; 2 Timothy 3: 1, 2; Deuteronomy 6: 10-12).
Do you often feel alone – that God’s not around? If you’re a Christian, you’re in his hand (John 10: 27-30). Still, his hand is steady, unshakable, sort of like a Rock (Isaiah 26: 4).
You just have to open your eyes and look around to see that he’s there and has provided for you even before you asked. Abraham told Isaac God would provide the sacrifice and God did (Genesis 22: 6-14). All Abraham had to do was look around and see Gods’ provision.
God never leaves us, throws us out of his hand, or lets anyone snatch us, but we can leave him. If you’ve jumped out of God’s hand, he’ll let you back in. He doesn’t use a shepherd’s crook to snatch you back, though; he reaches his staff out for you to take hold of. God doesn’t chase strays – those not wanting to be rescued; he expects those wanting to be rescued to follow his voice, much like cattle run to the cake truck.
If you haven’t stepped into God’s hand yet, today is the best time to do that. All you need to do is acknowledge in your heart and with your mouth Jesus’ Lordship over your life.
Look around and see what God does for you every day. He even sends his sunshine and rain on everyone hoping they will turn to him (Matthew 5: 45).
In any case, when you’re in God’s hand, you many not realize how happy he is (Luke 15: 3-7). He’s not going hug you, because his hand is steady, like a Rock. The other people in his hand – the other Christians – can and will do that, though, it you’ll let us. That’s actually how God hugs people physically, by working through Christians (Philippians 2: 12, 13).
If you want to return to God’s hand as a Christian, give him a call (1 John 1: 8, 9). When you do that, or if you want to get into his hand to begin with, or if you just want a hug, don’t challenge God to show up, you’re the one that needs to show up. When you’re ready, give me a call and I’ll go with you (461-4421).
Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ