When was the last time you were hungry? I mean really hungry, where the pain of an empty stomach made you buckle, or the audible growl of your insides echoed to remind you of your lack of food. Sometimes it happens for a good cause, other times it is due to our negligence and forgetfulness to plan ahead for our basic need of nourishment. This happens with our physical insides yet also occurs in our soul. What if your heart could cry out or your spiritual insides ached just as loud? Would you or could you hear it? Spiritual self-awareness takes work and planning just as our bodily nourishment, yet may I say it is needed and craved so much more!
The challenges of regular life, as well as the weight and mantle of extra responsibilities, require a deep emotional strength, which in turn create Souls that can do much good and feel great joy in life. In order for us to not just survive but thrive in this mortal adventure, we need to be wise, self-aware, seek it and be connected to a source of true reliable soul-filling nourishment. God is that source. Our Heavenly Father is the One with a loving and merciful Plan of Happiness, a Plan of Salvation, that contains all the pieces for peace and eternal growth. This mortal journey is a great step along the way, yet our ultimate goal is eternal increase, and soul-stretching opportunities help us acquire the strength and growth to merit such blessings.
In the scriptures we read of various people, their journeys, hardships, solutions to mortal problems and conflict. We read of how some sought God, others did not, and in the success stories we read of how they daily needed nourishment provided by the Lord. They went forth every day to gather Manna.
There are many important points to scripture stories, some worth diving in deep to understand and apply in our lives. Here are a few ideas worth considering recommitment about spiritual manna. Manna which literally means in Hebrew “what is it?” also has reference to being “grain from heaven” or “bread of angels” and the “good of truth.” (Psalm 78:24-25) If we seek it and daily gather our own manna (truth, spiritual bread) the promise is sure to deepen our conversion and strength.
The faithful people in the scriptures who gathered manna did the work and did it daily. These children of Israel, an entire generation of forty years survived on manna, and knew from Whom their source of nourishment came. (Exodus 16, additional resources below) Gathering manna took effort, it was work, and each person had to do it. The food was not dropped in their hands but each man, woman and child had to go out and gather it for themselves. The physical and spiritual nourishment was needed on a regular basis, every day. It was a daily reoccurring need, a repetitive process of nourishment. Just like we daily eat food, bathe, clean house, reconnect with loved ones, and tidy from the regular routines of life, we also need the spiritual side of renewal. We have healthy habits that must be constant and consistent in our lives in order to survive the physical, moral, emotional, and spiritual battles of mortality.
Seeking spiritual manna is a habit we ought to prioritize more often. Sometimes with the flurry of family life, work demands, community and church service, self improvement, etc., the spiritual self-survival and soul-maintenance gets set aside for seemingly urgent issues that yell louder than our own soul’s needs. Yet as our stress or worldly worries increase, so must our spiritual time increase if we want to survive and thrive in this amazing mortal journey. That is the miracle of the Atonement. Through God’s Grace, we are enabled to do great things, endure hard things, and excel at doing our part in life.
In Jesus’ sermon on the bread of life we are reminded to work for that which lasts longer or for that which “endureth” (John 6:27). Elder Dallin H. Oaks reminds us: “The Savior taught that He was the Bread of Life, the source of eternal nourishment. Speaking of the mortal nourishment the world offered, including the manna Jehovah had sent to feed the children of Israel in the wilderness, Jesus taught that those who relied on this bread were now dead (John 4:49). In contrast the nourishment He offered was the ‘living bread’ which came down from heaven’ and, Jesus taught ‘if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever.’ (John 5:51)” (Teachings of Jesus, October 2011)
Gathering daily spiritual manna for me is creating spiritual time every day. Immersing in holy words which will turn my heart Heavenward. It could look different for each person – more time in the scriptures, reading pages of holy writ or words of prophets, electronically exploring on our devices or listening to the scriptures, wise words of leaders or sacred music and hymns as we get ready for the day or drive or do our routines of life. It is better to immerse ourselves in the scriptures and holy words in any form, than to miss that precious daily time to ponder on our Savior Jesus Christ. And if you’re taking the time, double it, or find an increase and see what miracles occur in your life in acquiring peace, answers, solutions and connection to God.
We are all invited to “Come to Jesus” to do the work, daily and deeply. Let us seek the spiritual manna that will nourish our souls and help us connect to Christ forever.
[Additional reading in the Bible about Manna: Exodus 16:31-35 (4-36); Joshua 5:12; Nehemiah 9:15, 20; Psalm 78:24-25; Deuteronomy 8:3, 16; Joshua 5; Matthew 4:4; John 6:31-35, 6:48-51, 58; Numbers 11:6-9; Hebrews 9:4; 1 Corinthians 10:3; Revelation 2:17. In the Book of Mormon: 1 Nephi 17:28; Mosiah 7:19.]