Collecting – It’s Life or Death!

By Melissa McLaughlin


The good news? I am a minimalist.

This means, I actually enjoy cleaning out and donating unused items, reducing clutter and simplifying my surroundings and life. For me, less is truly more.

The bad news? I am surrounded by a long line of collectors.

This means, most of my family actually enjoys finding, purchasing and saving assorted “treasures”. From album collections, to eraser collections, to pencil collections, to cat collections, to hat collections, to sports memorabilia collections, to coin-operated plastic toy collections, to book collections, to rock collections, to shell collections, to sea glass collections, to bottle collections, to, to, to… The list goes on. In their case, less is just that, less.

Collecting - It's Life or Death - Jesus is the Bread of Life Manna

My guess is that God knew somehow we would be good for each other – the minimalists and the collectors. I keep them from being buried in collections. They keep me from selling the rug out from under my own feet!

Collecting in the Bible

Interestingly, the Bible also contains some ardent collectors. God’s people, the Israelites, went through a long period of collecting. However, it wasn’t a collection for hobby, beauty or enjoyment. It was a collection for survival.

What were the Israelites collecting? Manna.

Day after day, after day, after day. Collecting manna. In fact, their very lives depended on it!

Manna – The Bread of Heaven

The account of this Bible story begins shortly after God has set His people free from Egyptian slavery employing Moses as their leader to aid them in crossing the Red Sea. The adventure picks up here in Exodus 16.
They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.'” And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord said to Moses,“I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.'”
In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.'” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.'” So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”
On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? See! The Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day.
Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.'” And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept. The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. (An omer is the tenth part of an ephah.)

What an incredible answer to prayer! The people cry out to God in hunger and God Himself feeds the people with the bread of heaven! The manna fell with the nighttime dew and was ready each morning for gathering. God commanded the people to gather it, each one, an omer (around 2 liters) per person, per day.

What is It?

God provided just enough, for each person, one day at a time. The people called it “manna” which in Hebrew means “What is it?” However, God called it bread from heaven. Manna could be collected each morning, before it melted in the hot sun, in appearance like small coriander seeds, but white in color. The fine flakes appeared as white frost on the ground, yet when gathered up tasted like wafers with honey.

Try to pause for a moment and imagine the early morning hours with each person gathering his or her own manna flakes as the sun rose on the horizon.

The old gather.

The young gather.

The weak gather.

The strong gather.

Each one collecting bread for today.

Each one gathering strength for just one more day of life.

Each one picking up their daily provision to simply survive until tomorrow when the bread would fall again.

Each one gets just enough for today, just today.

Imagine taking your children out, each with their own container to gather their own food. The older helping the younger. Some may gather quickly. Others may need more time. Each one collecting.

Next imagine each person eating their own food. After collecting, the people ground the manna into flour to make cakes, perhaps something like a pancake.

Only on the day before the Sabbath could the people gather a double portion to have food enough for both days, so that no one need work on the Sabbath. Anyone who gathered extra, would otherwise find it wormy and spoiled with a bad smell.

What was God teaching through His provision of bread from heaven?

First, we need to depend on Him for every part of our lives every day. What we have collected of His presence and His Word from yesterday will not be enough to nourish us for tomorrow.

When we go to Him and follow His commands, He will provide. God can be trusted, but He does not earn our trust by giving us great storehouses and shining the light far up ahead into the future. He helps us trust Him in a deeper way by supplying for us in the here and now so we learn to rely on Him one day at time. Today and tomorrow and the next day and the next.

He is also teaching us that each person must go to Him for themselves. We must collect our bread from Him and be nourished by Him ourselves. I cannot eat for you. You cannot eat for me. Each person must seek Him and experience Him for themselves in order to be filled, nourished and strengthened.

Another lesson found here leads us to Christ. As is so often the case, the Old Testament grants a foreshadow of things to come. For in the New Testament, Jesus, becomes our spiritual manna, our daily bread.

John 6:32-35 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

What constitutes daily bread for us today?

1.Reading the Bible, God’s Word, and allowing the eternal truth of God to fill our empty, hungry souls.

2.Spending time in prayer, filling our earthly spirits with a heavenly feast found only in talking and communing with Him.

3.Offering praise and thanksgiving to the Lord Jesus through words and songs to keep our minds remembering the provision God has already placed before us at His table of righteousness, mercy, grace, love and truth.

Daily Bread Lessons

What lesson can we embrace for ourselves as we consider the lessons of manna?

1.Each person must come to God for themselves.

2.Each person must collect their own daily bread, every single day.

3.The bread you collected yesterday will not nourish today.

4.Jesus is our true nourishment, greater than life itself.

For some who have been growing in their faith in Christ for a long time, these suggestions are well known. However, even the most faith-filled long-time follower sometimes needs encouragement to gather the daily manna for today.

Feeling Hungry?

If you find yourself struggling, sluggish or slow to draw near God for your spiritual food, here are a few suggestions:

1.Try turning on worship music that will help bring your mind and heart to a state of worship. Let your personal time with God flow from there.

2.Try listening to an audio version of the Bible.

3.Call a Godly friend and ask them to pray aloud with you.

4.Last but certainly not least… ask God to give you the desire to desire Him. Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of all who believe. Invite the Holy Spirit to move in your life.

If you pray, over and over, day after day, asking God to give you the desire to desire Him, He WILL answer that prayer. Guaranteed. For His eyes are scanning the whole earth looking for those who will be committed to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9) He is waiting for you to turn to Him. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you! (James 4:8)

What helps you continue seeking the Lord day after day?

Whether you are a natural-born collector or a minimalist like me, when you use your life, breath and strength to collect the things of God, your heart will be enlarged, your collection of love, grace and truth will shine with heavenly brilliance and at the same time your earthly load will be lightened. He fills the collector and the minimalist in just the right way, each receiving just what they need.

Feeling hungry? Time to gather today’s installment of Jesus, our daily bread! For our eternal life depends on it!

Collecting - It's Life or Death - Jesus is the Bread of Life Manna

Additional Resources

Got Bread? By Melissa McLaughlin

Please pause for just a moment and enjoy this beautiful, insightful poem by Wendy L. Macdonald’s blog, Immeasurably More Than I Imgaine

Seeing Jesus in Exodus By Pete Briscoe of Telling the Truth

Supplying All of Your Needs By Dr.Tony Evans of Urban Alternative

Definition of Manna By Jewish Encyclopedia

64 thoughts on “Collecting – It’s Life or Death!”

  1. Manna is God’s grace. We’re to receive it daily and the grace we received this morning is no longer good for the present. We need fresh grace for now. And yesterday’s grace is no good for us today. We receive it as we need it. And we can’t stash grace! And we certainly don’t want to abuse grace!

  2. I recently started listening to the Bible on my Bible app. Sometimes I fall asleep listening, but at least the Word is getting in my brain! I also try to listen to praise music a little each day. It is my preferred method of connecting with God, but sometimes things get chaotic way too early in this house and don’t slow down until bedtime. I’m grateful for God’s mercy that comes to us fresh each day. I sure need it!

    • Nicole, my husband and I often do the same – either listening to a Bible app or listening to a sermon. It is such a comforting way to fall asleep and yes, I do believe His Word is seeping in, as we give that time to Him! I remember how tough it was to find quiet, alone time with God when I had little ones. The very phrase, quiet/alone time barely exists! I give you credit for playing the worship music and Bible app, to invite His Presence in where you can. I sure need it too! Praying you have a special moment with God today!

  3. Amen Missy. When I seek God through Bible reading, prayer and quiet time I feel His peace that goes beyond all understanding. When I let life’s worries and struggles keep me from that daily time is when I feel anxiety and stress. I NEED GOD EVERY DAY!! I NEED MY DAILY BREAD, THE BREAD OF LIFE, JESUS!!

    Thank you for this reminder and encouragement 😇

    • So true, Pat! I am desperate for His Word, His Spirit, His peace and there is no other way, but to draw near to him in Bible reading, prayer and praise. I NEED GOD EVERY SINGLE DAY! MY DAILY BREAD! JESUS! Thank you for adding your encouragement here!

    • Dear Chrissy, I am humbled and honored that you would consider sharing this article on your blog! All praise to our God and King!
      May we continue to encourage one another to draw near to Christ, the nourishment of our soul, our deepest need. For we cannot live by bread alone, but by every word given by God! I just had the opportunity to check out your poetry! What a blessing!

  4. One collection I urge women I mentor to make is a collection of the Lord’s blessings. Just keeping a list of the little things He does in our lives every day can give us a spirit of praise and Thanksgiving when things seem otherwise difficult. You make great points here about the personal nature of God’s provision for us.

    • Beth, I love this idea! It is such a comfort and source of strength to look back at all the little blessings God provided along the way. I started a thankfulness journal a couple of years ago and try to take time once a week just to list the small blessings. It is amazing to look back and remember! Thanks for sharing your insights and feedback!

  5. Great post! Drawing out the details pertaining to the manna made even more clear its application to the person of Jesus, the Bread of Life, and our daily need for him. Not taking the time to be in the Word, to pray, and to purposefully connect with him throughout the day is like going without sustenance. We arrive puny, cranky, and often hangry by the end of the day. Day after day of this, and we’re a general mess. Thankfully, the Lord doesn’t make it difficult for us to find him. When we’re in his Word, he speaks to us. When we cry out in prayer, he hears us. When we talk to him about everything, he is present. Making all of this clear with your words, you wrote a great illustration of these truths!

    • Melinda, I totally agree with your description here! I become “puny, cranky and hangry” without the nourishment my soul needs. And yes, the Lord makes it so easy to meet with Him! He is waiting, always waiting, if only we pause from our mighty to-do lists long enough to be infused with His True Might! Bless you!

  6. These are such great thoughts on the Manna of God, Melissa! What struck me on pondering it all today, is that nothing was wasted. Not only was there enough, and they were taught not to hoard it, and to gather every day, but even in that one day’s gathering there was nothing left to go to waste. I have prayed with a friend for years, and we have always felt Him say to us that “God’s love is never wasted.” This is such a beautiful example of that! Thank you so much for sharing this. I needed this today so much. Blessings to you!

    • Oh Bettie, what a marvelous point! Nothing is wasted! God’s work is perfectly carried out in just the right measure so nothing is ever wasted. Such a comforting thought, no matter how I feel my life is wasted with difficulties, health problems, “times of slowness”, whatever, God is living, moving and using it, as I give it all to Him. May we rest in His great Eternal Efficiency! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insights. Bless you, Bettie!

  7. Love this, Melissa. And, yes, the Manna from heaven was an answer to prayer and God’s great provision. I pray to hunger every day for the bread of life…Jesus. For it’s the only sustenance and real nourishment for my spirit and soul. The only 100% satisfaction guaranteed which the stuff of the world can never promise.

    My husband said in a sermon recently, we can’t make it this week on our quiet time (prayer, Bible reading, etc) from last week.

    • Oh Karen, what a prayer! That I may hunger for the bread of life, Jesus, every single day! Thank you for sharing your heart here! Your husband’s sermon message is echoing the same lesson of the Manna. We need Jesus, how we need Him! Every hour we need Him! May God bless you and your husband in your Kingdom work!

  8. Manna is amazing to think about. Miraculous provision, every single day. Just as God’s Word, Spirit and presence is to us. But we, like the Israelites take it for granted at times. I love your point that yesterday’s bread manna will not nourish me today. So important! Thank you!

    • I agree, Elaine! The more I ponder the manna that God provided, the more I stand in wonder about God, His power and His provision for our deepest needs. May we draw near Him anew each day! Blessings to you!

  9. I love this! Such a positive reminder about our need to rely on God DAILY. Which requires daily seeking & nourishment. We can’t rely on yesterday’s strength, nor can we acquire the strength of the future before God has extended it. He gives us what we need for today!

    • We need Him, how we need Him! The Lord Jesus is our life and our eternal life. Truly nothing else will do. Your words are so true, Elizabeth, we need to rely on God DAILY! Thank you for sharing your heart for the Lord! Bless you!

  10. You are such a good Bible teacher! I hope that you conduct Bible studies at your church? I love these words of wisdom on “collecting” for ourselves from the “bread of heaven.” So true!

    • Thank you for the kind words of encouragement, Lisa! I’m humbled and honored. May God be praised! When we imagine ourselves waking up to the new light of day, collecting the only food to be found for the day ahead, it is such strong lesson for us to remember for our spiritual nourishment. Can’t go on another day without a new collection of the day’s supplies. Oh Lord, give us a heart to hunger for you first and most!

  11. This is excellent, Melissa! I, too, am a minimalist, and I absolutely love sweeping the house from time to time and collecting tons of stuff to give away. My 11yo daughter (who can be a hoarder!!) and I have had lots of talks lately about how we don’t need to worry about tomorrow, that God provides what we need ALWAYS. When we can let our fears stop ruling us and start truly depending on God, it’s so liberating.

    • Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences, Jessica! Your words are so true – when we really start depending on God, it is so liberating! I am slowly, slowly learning that lesson, to trust Him like a little child sitting on a loving parent’s lap. In full dependence, full trust, full faith. May we hunger for Him more and more, for only He can satisfy! Bless you and your daughter, too!

  12. This spoke to my heart, Melissa! I loved, ‘Each one gathering strength for just one more day of life. Each one picking up their daily provision to simply survive until tomorrow when the bread would fall again. Each one gets just enough for today, just today.” Just today. How mindful I have to be not to be chasing after tomorrow’s provision or lost in yesterday’s provision. The life of faith – trusting His provision for today. Thank you, friend!

    • Thank you for the kind words, Lisa! All glory to God! I love the way you say – resting fully in a life of faith – trusting His provision for today. May we take joy in seeking the Lord and enjoying His presence today while at the same time trusting Him to give us what we need for whatever tomorrow may bring…when tomorrow comes. Thank you for sharing your heart and insights, my friend!

  13. One thing that helps me is listening to Christian music or sermons on my long commute. I also have been memorizing God’s Word again. I love this reminder that we need to collect our manna on a daily basis. I sometimes binge on the bread of life rather than intaking daily. I’m learning to trust that God will provide all my needs every day. Thanks for your insights!

    • Bless you, dear Candice! Thank you for sharing your insights and feedback. I am so grateful for the technology that allows me to listen to sermons or worship music as I travel, too. What a wonderful blessing! May the Holy Spirit stir up a hunger within us for our daily bread, more than anything else! Blessings to you!

    • You’re so right, Wendy! The old hymn says it all, every hour we need Him. It really is the sweetest blessing thar God should call us to draw near, fresh every morning. What a good, good Father! Blessings to you!

  14. I love this! I am a minimalist in many areas but a collector when it comes to books. However, I have found that books cannot ever replace the time spent with the Lord. That is my favorite. Thank you for sharing!

  15. I love your point of depending on God for every part of our day. So true. But sometimes in hectic situations we might just forget . Great tips. Thank you!

    • Thank you, dear Ava, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! It is so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life, our to-do lists, the circumstances that call to us minute by minute, etc. May Jesus, our bread of life, be the first name on our lips each morning, throughout the day and as we head to sleep each night. Nothing else is more important. May we hunger for Him more!

  16. I love how you express what is manna in our lives today. And I always love remembering that God gave them just enough for each day, no more. What a convicting reminder as my husband and I work on budgets and savings as we prepare for kids and future retirement!

    • I appreciate your insights and applications here, Emily! Wow. May we be mindful of what is enough in God’s eyes. I think God knows what we often do with excess. May we rest in utter dependence upon the One who knows and loves us best!


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