As Much as They Needed

Before I get to the musts, I think I need to work my way through the needs. Because I suspect that the way I view musts is connected to the way I view needs. And vice versa. But I think the “needs” are more foundational, so I’m gonna camp there for a while.

For today, I simply want to point out that God will provide what we need, when we need it. In the wilderness, God provided manna and later quail to meet the food needs for the Israelites (Exodus 16). But he was very clear that he would give “as much as they needed” and no more. In fact, that were supposed to gather as much as they needed only, because the extra would spoil. They needed only “enough for that day”.

There were some who tested it. They ended up with maggots and rot and stink. Because they ignored God and tested him.

When am I getting maggots and rot and stink because I want to collect more than “enough for that day”? Not that God can’t give us abundance—that’s not my point. Rather where am I testing God to make sure he give me enough not just for today, but for tomorrow and the next day and the next month and the next year? I wonder that about 401k accounts all the time. But that’s easy for me, because I barely have one and would rather keep that money for today. How about all those times I hope I’m gonna win McDonald’s Monopoly so that I never have to worry about money again? How about hoping for a random check to show up in the mail that will fix all our money problems? How about hoping our mortgage company will send us a letter that our note has been paid in full?

I’ve hoped for all these things. I’ve prayed for all of them.

More than once.


Maybe I just can’t stand the thought of literally having to depend on God to provide me with the money to buy the food we need each day. Maybe it’s not a maybe. I can’t stand the thought. I would’ve collected more manna than I needed for the day. I would’ve been one of those dudes. Because I don’t trust God enough to give me exactly what I need for today without demanding more.

I don’t want God to give me just enough. Because then I’ll need him. Every. Single. Day. And I’ll just have to believe that he’ll keep providing everything.

The fact that this feels so hard proves how small my belief.

Needs and Musts

I want to highlight this very real tension I feel between needs and needs in my life. Because it’s an incredibly elusive line between the two and because one type tends to overshadow the other. Despite drawing an artificial line between two words that are roughly equivalent, I’m going with needs and musts to help illustrate what I mean.

When I say “needs”, I’m referring to the things our bodies (and possibly souls) require that they will not be refused. Like hunger. Sustenance is a need and our body will scream to us–sometimes with the very noticeable gumbly tummy–when that need isn’t being met. Or sleep is another. Our bodies need sleep and will literally shut down if that need isn’t being met. Or oxygen. This one fights back very quickly. Or going to the bathroom. Not trying to be gross here, but it’s another non-negotiable with our body. The body will fight back if the need isn’t met.

But there are another list of things that are probably also needs in a very real sense, but they don’t have that same instinctual pushback. These I’m going to call “musts”. With these, I’m thinking of things like relationships and community and communion with God and knowledge and instruction. This incredibly amorphous category contain items that are very real needs (or musts, as I’m going to say it), but our bodies and souls don’t have the same level of instinctual survival mode about. Oh, it’s there. Why else would people be in incredibly horrible relationships or part of a cult or pursing worthless means like they’re ends? Because our souls do pushback, but much less noticeably and with much more subtlety.

Having made the distinction, I find that my life and my to-dos and my daily goings-on are almost exclusively centered on needs and I’ve left no space for musts. And my soul is crying out in desperation for the musts. For deeper relationships. For a oneness with God that surpasses anything I could imagine. For knowledge that takes me “further up and further in”, not trailing through a series of BuzzFeed articles.

So, here’s my goal: to post daily however often I get to it on the topic and bring to bear the Scriptures along with the wisdom of men speaking by the Spirit to point me back to the musts. Because the needs–needs that can’t be ignored–are crowding out the musts. And I’m wondering if, in writing about this, I’ll discover that I’ve subbed in needs in place of musts and false musts in place of trust musts. I have no doubt that this has happened. But I would like to discover my waywardness, repent of it, and drink from living streams that will never let me thirst again.

And I invite you to journey with me through this, as I find my Marthaness and look for Maryness.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Walk with me to find and choose what is better.