We’re flying by the seat of our pants.
School is back in swing. Work is back to busy-as-usual. The future feels uncertain depending on the hour or the headlines. It’s hard to know where to place our hope or trust these days.
Lately I’ve been carrying two Scripture stories with me: the mustard seed and the manna.
Jesus told the provocative parable of the mustard seed to catch the attention of those who heard His words (Matthew 13:31-32). Who would plant a weed? How could God’s kingdom be compared to the smallest seed?
God gave manna to feed the Israelites in the wilderness, raining down bread each morning upon the hungry, grumbling people (Exodus 16). How could flakes feed people for 40 years? Why wouldn’t God let them stockpile the goodness instead of gathering each day?
Both stories challenge me to ask each day how I’m living and locating myself (and my family) within God’s plan of providence. Am I operating out of a theology of scarcity or a theology of abundance? Will God truly provide, or is it up to me in the end?
The parable of the mustard seed teaches us to trust that God can take anything small — the grain of an idea or the seed of a dream — and grow it into something great. Any work we do for the kingdom of God can become a home big enough for many to come and dwell within it, a scraggly weed of hope that stretches wide, strong branches into the sky.
The story of manna reminds us how God gives new mercies each morning and bread for today. We are invited to believe that enough will be enough and hoarding is never holy. God provides for all, and we’re called to work together to make sure that everyone can survive, even thrive.
What about your own manna or mustard seed?
Trusting the manna is not just about working hard. Yes, you have to get out and gather what God gives, but you also have to honor the Sabbath and rest. You must not keep more than you need. God is waiting to pour out graces, often through unexpected means if you open your hands to receive.
Your manna may be the gift of time when you feel pressed or stressed by the demands of your life. It may be attention when you are pulled in multiple directions, or energy when you are tired or burnt out. God’s manna may be hope when the world’s suffering weighs heavy or compassion when people are acting unlovable.
On the other hand, your mustard seed may be the hope of a new child, the dream of better work, the desire for a home or the longing for community. It may be a gift you have to offer or an ability you’ve been given to share. Whatever small seed you pray would blossom into full bloom.
Remembering the mustard seed beckons us to see what is easy to overlook and to trust in what takes time to grow. Even the smallest seed can become a mighty tree, just as our acts of love and service allow others to experience God’s abundance.
The Exodus story invites us to invert our instincts and trust that whatever God gives will be enough. Jesus’ parable reminds us that what the world calls unreasonable is how God loves to work: starting from the least and growing into the greatest, making room enough for all who seek a home in the kingdom.
Wherever this autumn leads, take these two truths with you — and see what God is waiting to grow: Remember the mustard seed. Trust the manna.
Laura Kelly Fanucci is a writer, speaker and author of several books. Her work can be found at laurakellyfanucci.com.