“Hope is the trust that God has not forgotten the simple recipe for manna,” my friend said a few weeks ago. It felt like God placed manna in my mouth as these words found their way into my heart.
She was leading a time of soul care for some of the leaders in our organization, talking about the wilderness, waiting, and the challenging reality of keeping hope alive in those sacred spaces. I needed to hear this one sentence on that one day. It shimmered and danced its way into my soul, weaving around threads that struggle to remember. I’m now wondering if this was one of the tunes that played on Jesus’ heartstrings as His Father drew Him into solitary spaces to be with Him.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him. (Luke 6:12-13)
After Jesus had dismissed the crowds, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was still there alone. (Matthew 14:23)
I’ve imagined many reasons Jesus consistently carved out space in his days to be with His Father. But this one has never crossed my mind. I assumed that it was only humans who struggled to unwaveringly know, despite the harshest of circumstances, that the biblical God is one who remembers the recipe for manna. But today, I’m thinking about how Jesus was fully human and fully God, and that in the tenderness of his flesh, perhaps he might have wondered at times like the following circumstance:
When Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. (Matthew 14:13)
I wonder if upon hearing of the beheading of his beloved John by an indulgent ruler submitting to a cruel wife’s request, that part of his heart’s journey in that solitary place was reassuring himself that his Father had not forgotten the recipe for manna.
More and more I see the truth in Dallas Willard’s statement that the most important thing about us is our view of God and its associated images. My view of God is most challenged in the wilderness. At the same time, it is in the wilderness that I am most often drawn into the solitary place within where I can attune to His gentle voice and allow Him to wipe the film of doubt from my eyes. Thomas Kelly writes beautifully about the inner sanctuary God has placed within us:
Deep within us all, there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, pressing upon our time-worn lives, warming us with intimation of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself. It is a light within which illumines the face of God and casts new shadows and new glories upon the face of men. It is the Shekinah of the Soul, the Presence in the midst. Here is the Slumbering Christ, stirring to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action.
When life is going smoothly, it’s easy for me to believe God is who He says He is, but on the long wilderness trek, I find myself more inclined to lose sight of His gaze. it is only in the solitary place—gazing upon the face of God—that I see clearly again.
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’” And He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”(Mark 14:32)
Tim Mackie of The Bible Project teaches that a more accurate translation for the word “grieved” is “panic attack.” Jesus was having a panic attack. As Jesus entered into His darkest hours, He withdrew to that solitary place within, which illumined the face of God. And as He sweat droplets of blood while asking His Father if the cup of suffering could be passed from Him, He surrendered once again to His faithful God. Amidst His soul-wrenching suffering, He maintained hope that His Father had not forgotten the recipe for manna.
I’m sure the disciples were convinced God had forgotten the recipe for manna as they watched their master and rabbi surrender himself to people whose view of God led them to mock and crucify Him.
As they watched their rabbi, who they thought would bring liberation, gasp His last breath.
As the veil in their place of worship where they could commune with God was torn in two.
As the earth quaked and the sky went black that Friday afternoon—these circumstances would have made it hard to believe that God was faithful.
And then Sunday came.
And their rabbi rose from the grave, and walked through walls to be with them, and assure them that God will always remember the recipe for manna. Sunday came. And Sunday will always come because God is a remembering God.
Written by Lisa Brockman.
To read more of Lisa’s writing, visit lisabrockman.me. Her book, Out of Zion: Meeting Jesus in the Shadow of the Mormon Temple is available at https://www.amazon.com/Out-ion-eeting-hadow-ormon-book/dp/B07SVCWTCB/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1634829281&sr=8-. Instagram: lisabrockman_me.
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