Sunday, December 5, 2010

sufficient unto the day

"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (matthew 6:34).

a nearly-crash landing on our flight today should produce in me some deep thoughts, no? while my head was as near my lap as it can get (not very near thanks to anastasia, i'm afraid), while my arms were braced against the seat in front of me and sam was holding luke's head down by the back of his neck (read your seatback emergency instructions--who knew that's what you were supposed to do?), while the flight attendant was ensuring everyone knew where the closest exits were--while all of that was happening, i should have had some sort of life-flashing-before-my-eyes moment, shouldn't i have?

not so much, as it turns out.

don't get me wrong: it was scary. but honestly, until after we landed and found out the whole story of what had happened--pilot's panels out, cockpit filled with smoke--we didn't have the time or information to realize how scary it should have been. the pilot and flight attendants did an amazing job of making sure we knew how important it was that we did what we were told without causing anyone to panic, despite the fact that they gave us very little information.

this is what surprises me the most. as i was just sharing with a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer and is about to undergo a major surgery, i'm the type of person who wants all the information. throughout eliza's life, i was so frustrated by doctors who wouldn't explain it all to me--all the possibilities, all the ramifications, all the possible treatments. even if none of it proved to be true, i wanted to understand everything i could so i would be prepared. i felt that way about God, too; i could handle whatever was going to happen with eliza, just as long as He prepared me for it.

despite the fact that many of eliza's doctors learned that i could in fact handle whatever information they had, that i would persist in asking questions until they told me what they could, they very often had few if any answers to give me. the same was true with God: although He has all the answers, obviously, He did not frequently give me lots of information in preparation for all of the many important moments in eliza's life. the lack of information i had throughout eliza's life and since then has always frustrated me. if only i knew! and i have for a very long time been convinced that since this was how i was wired, it must be right and good.

our near-crash landing (which ended completely safely, by the way) today is a good real-live metaphor for what i apparently refuse to learn: just enough information--and not all of it--can be a protection and a gift. had the flight crew answered all of our questions in the moment, had they given us all the information we thought we wanted--what was going on? what was going to happen? what were all the possibilities for landing scenarios?--not that there was time to answer any of those questions...but if they had, would that have helped us? would we have been safer or calmer or better prepared? no. we were given what we needed for the moment, and that was it. i'm pretty sure i've read that God works the same way.

"The LORD said to Moses, 'I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, "At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God."'

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: "Everyone is to gather as much as they need. 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, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they 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 they 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 sabbath 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 they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.' So the people rested on the seventh day (exodus 16:11-30).

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