“Enough is Enough”
There’s a story of an old man, a good christian man. Let’s call him Mark. Ya see Mark was a carpenter, who specialized in cabinets. He owned a little shop in town that he rode is bike to every morning and home from every night. Mark was also a collector. He would grab a hold of anything he could get his hands on, food for eating, wood for building, stones for decorating, paper for paper macheing, toothpicks for picking, etc. With everything he picked up he would murmur to himself, “Oh I could use this for later, I better grab it now before someone else does.” He would put it in the basket on his bike or strap it to his bike and take it to his house. He regarded his collection as his treasure, his prized pearl that only he could enjoy.
Then one day the friends he made on his daily ride to and from work realized, they hadn’t seen him in a while. Worried, they called the police department to check in on him. So the officers pay a visit to Mark’s home and see his bike parked in the driveway so they figured he was there. They knock on the door once twice and three times, no one answers. So they called out to him and put their head to the door and heard no sound but smelled an obnoxious odor seeping from the frame. They go around to the windows and do the same, they hear no sound but smell the remains. Finally they knock down the door and see the floor litter to the ceiling with junk galore. They call for Mark again and hear no sound and there is just to much junk to go around, so they climb over and the smell is getting stronger and stronger and they can’t take it much longer. Then they see Mark lying lifeless curled up in a cabinet. Later the coroner explains that Mark died of dehydration. I guess he thought his treasure would be his salvation but it ended up being his damnation.
Exodus 16:2-7; 13-21
Ex. 2 The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’ 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.’ 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, ‘In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord.
Ex. 16:13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’” 17 The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, as much as each needed; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
Why is it does it matter if the Israelites store up a little manna and quail in the desert?
We live in America, the land of promise, or some would say the Promised Land. Many have crossed the Pond embarking on an exodus to reach these gilded streets and our land flowing with milk and honey, in search for a better life. Many bring with them just the clothes on their backs and their memories of economic, social, and physical enslavement. They have been told that there is not enough to go around. But, they have heard in America, we can have it our own way, the world is our oyster, we have a right to be unlimited. So we have learned to store up anything we can for fear that we will someday go without or someone will take it.
You see we Americans live in the same Ancient Egypt worldview the Israelites were delivered from. We have bought into the myth of scarcity that tells us there isn’t enough to go around even though we see excess around us. Our philosophy has become “I before We and Me before the Team” what’s mine is mine and what’s yours I’ll take.
But here we see Exodus sing a different song with what Walter Bruggeman calls the “lyric of abundance.” This tune not only brings the Israelites out of Egypt but brings the Egypt out of the Israelites. By singing the love song of God’s daily sustaining grace even in a barren desert. Bonhoeffer puts it this way “We receive from God only as much faith as we need for the present day….Either we receive it [faith] daily anew or it rots” To enter in to the Promised Land God offers the Israelites an opportunity to learn to accept daily sustenance from God. By learning God’s song of abundance and turning off the clanging noise of scarcity. By turning away from the Ancient egyptian model of storing up goods, in order to rely on god daily.
Ellen Davis elaborates this point saying, “Enough is enough, and more-than-enough is not better; excess may in fact be contrary to the purposes of God. It is through living into a life of excess that we begin to lose touch with reality and start to believe that we are the ones that sustain our lives.”
Its like the author of exodus knew to store up our treasures out of fear leads to dehydration and starvation in the desert. May we learn the song of God’s abundance and allow God’s daily bread, Christ’s grace to be enough for us. Amen.