Today, I was reminded by Os Hillman the truth and importance  of Exodus 16:4.  “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will cause food to fall like rain from the sky for all of you.  Every day the people must go out and gather what they need for that day.  I want to see if the people will do what I teach them'” (New Century Version).

When God takes us into the wilderness, we find that we must depend totally on the Lord.  Imagine, no way to purchase steak or after-school snacks.  No grocery stores, 7-11 stores.  No farms, plowing or harvest.  No orange groves.  No Macy’s to purchase a new Christmas sweater or shoe stores to satisfy our inherited shoe genes. 

The wilderness always means that we are dependent on the Lord, totally and completely. 

The reason I was impressed by this verse, however, wasn’t because of my dependence–though it is vital for my spiritual growth.  It is because of the mentally challenged community.  Often when I speak and teach about depending on the Lord, I see from our members’ smiles and other expressions of understanding that this is a principle they understand and accept.  Even our lower functioning members comprehend this dogma. 

The mentally challenged community are people who are totally dependent on others.  There are very few things that they can do completely on their own.  Even when they are gifted in one area, like Michael, our members may be captured by emotions and stresses they cannot understand, much less explain to others. 

Over the years, I’ve come to know and love Michael because of his sweet, giving spirit.  I’ve also come to appreciate and depend on his talents and giftings.  Nevertheless, there are times that Michael slips into an agonizing funk.  Trying to probe and examine him, only makes his pain more extreme.  As talented as Michael is, he is not completely verbal.  Perhaps he does not even know what brings on his pain.  Everyone who knows him has learned to leave him alone and to allow him to work out his emotional crisis.  Only God can deliver him from his hurts and suffering and it takes time.

Frank, one of my closest friends, has an off-the-charts IQ.  Interestingly, he suffers from the same type of funk.  Even though he is extremely verbal, he is not able to explain why or how these awful fits of gloom come on him.  Like Michael, only God can release him from these times of hurtful suffering. 

This morning I was reminded of Michael and so many other members who must totally depend on the Lord.  Simple tasks, like buying groceries, are overwhelming ordeals without the help of another person.  Daily, practical living leaves them grasping for someone else’s assistance.  Their times of acute pain, however, are days that we must all allow God to do His supernatural work releasing them from their hurts and anxiety. 

“Isn’t there anything I can do to help Michael?”  I asked his caregiver, yesterday over lunch. 

“Pray.  You know our members all respond to prayer” was her wise answer.

All of us wander through the wilderness.  All of us share times of perplexing uncertainty when we must totally depend on the Lord.  Perhaps we can learn from our members during these anxious times of distress.  They are veterans of this lonely, foreboding place.  They understand God’s leading and grace in ways I only wish I could comprehend.