Shrinkage

“Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one’s need” (Exodus 16:17-18 NKJV).

Over the years I have traveled in more than a score of countries and to five of the world’s seven continents. I am an unapologetic souvenir shopper and have brought back probably hundreds of carvings, boxes, shawls, art works, pieces of clothing, and other “doo-dads,” including at least a few things from everywhere I have been.

Though many of these are valued mementos, a considerable portion is now stored away, or has even been discarded as of little or no worth. The fact is, what seems interesting and beautiful in a distant country will often be out of place at home.

Fishermen will recognize this as a kind of “shrinkage.” I have often caught a fish and been proud of it, only to look at it later and realize it was not nearly as big as I first thought. It is easy to become enthusiastic about that which is new or different, but then to reassess it when it has become more familiar.

This happens to many people in spiritual matters. Jesus talked about stony ground in which seed sprouts and grows quickly, only to soon wither and die because of the lack of nutrition and moisture (Matthew 13:5-6; 20-21). He said that many people are like that, in that they receive the message of the gospel and believe, but when troubles and distractions come they quickly fall away.

When the Israelites left Egypt, they took provisions only for a short time. Soon their food was gone and they complained. God provided manna for them which they gathered at dawn each day for forty years. When it was first given they were instructed to gather a specific amount per person. Being rather stubborn, some gathered too much; others did not collect enough. Yet when it was measured God intervened so that each one had exactly what he needed.

God administers his blessings to us in the same way, distributing just what is needed in every circumstance. Paul prayed, “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

We often do not know what, or how much, we need. But God knows. Jesus taught, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:31-32).

We frequently miscalculate, seeing God’s commands as too burdensome, and his blessings as uncertain or too small. Yet we are continually assured that he is all-powerful and all-loving. He can do whatever we need, and he wants only good for us. We must learn to trust him, relying confidently on his goodness and might (James 1:5-6). With God, there is no shrinkage.

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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