In Exodus 16 God provided the Israelites food that fell from heaven which was called “Manna.” Every morning the Israelites would gather this food so that they had enough to eat for the day.
Basically, this is a story about how God provides, not just for our needs, but our wants. Israelites need God, is depending on God to provide them sustenance, especially when they need it the most. So why am I telling you all this right now?
Well, because I find this story to be oddly comparative to what I am seeing in my backyard, every night… especially when it rains. The entire backyard is full of giant nightcrawler earthworms. I am not kidding, the picture I posted is of one nightcrawler out of the thousands.
I learned why they are called nightcrawlers because you only see them at night, never in the morning and also that they crawl, and also, never knew that worms can move that dang fast. They are really fast and once you shine a light on them, they zip out of there and into the ground they disappear.
I feel like this is a sign from God, or maybe more so a sign of love from God.
I am a huge fishing nerd, and I love fishing. I normally use artificial baits, but honestly, I won’t pass up free live bait either! I mean…. My entire backyard is in abundance of live big nightcrawlers, the perfect fishing bait. Everything eats nightcrawlers, bass, bluegills, crappie, perch, catfish, trout, and carp. Every night, I have the opportunity to gather free bait.
This is a sign that God provides… for me… and my fishing needs. It is a sign of God’s love, just as God loved the Israelites and gave them manna, God loves me and gives me nightcrawlers. Now God has provided fishing bait for not just myself, but more importantly my children, who love to go fishing, but aren’t quite ready to use artificial lures. So, instead of paying $5.00 or $8.00 for nightcrawlers, I have an abundance to pick in my backyard.
Now, remember though that in Exodus 16 the Israelites were to only collect enough manna for them to eat for the day. They were instructed not to save any for the next day, maybe in a way God is teaching them to only trust in Him. Now, at the same time… I have been instructed as well not to “save up” on the nightcrawlers and store them in the house… for my wife will be disappointed. I guess she doesn’t want to open up the refrigerator and see a bunch of nightcrawlers…. I get it. So that means I must only take the worms when I know I am going fishing the following day and only take what I need.
Whoever says that the stories in the bible are not real or relevant isn’t paying attention to what happens in everyday life!
What I am saying is, I think my nightcrawler situation proves the Exodus 16 story and proves God love and care for us. Also, new perks for Ward Ave Presbyterian members. Full access to the backyard in the evenings and night to get unlimited nightcrawlers. It’s good to be close to God isn’t it?
Most of you know this already, but I am a huge collector of anything fishing. I love having an abundance of various rods and reels. And I also have a huge surplus of fishing lures and fishing related stuff. I am a total nut what it comes to fishing. Honestly, everything that I spend on myself is fishing related. I don’t go out and buy clothes, phones, gadgets, sports memorabilia, or whatever.
I know, if my dad is reading this, he is probably shaking his head! But I am just like you! I remember seeing my fathers golf club collection, and man was it extensive, inspiring, and beautiful. My father collected golf clubs and every club he has used and has always kept in pristine shape. I am the same with my fishing gear.
And I am always in the market in looking for something better, interesting, and unique. I want to do everything I canto upgrade my fishing gear as the years pass by. And currently, I have my eyes on one rod and one reel. Maybe the rod I can afford someday, but I would only want the rod only if I can get the reel, so I can pair it together. But unfortunately, the reel is way out of my budget, and there is no way I can afford such a fishing reel.
Well… unless… I give up something I already have. The rod is about $300.00 and the reel is a whopping $600.00, together it will cost me $900.00. Which isn’t going to break the bank for me, but it is just so hard to justify buying such expensive gear, that only selfishly benefits me! Having expensive stuff isn’t going to make me a better fisherman, but having this tuff is just something I want. However, I could still get this rod and reel combo, but it will cost me. And to be honest, I wouldn’t want to pay for it out of the paycheck I earn. That paycheck goes to my family and kids. But if I give up the rods I already own. If I get bust and hustle and trade and sell the rods and reels I already have, I could get this spectular rod and reel. It maye cost me my entire collection of rod and reels. Suddenly, my arsenal of 10 plus rods and reels I use a ton to catch fish, would cripple me to only one rod and reel, and that would limit me to what bass fishing lures I could use in the future.
Is it really worth it? Is it really worth giving up everything just for one thing? In the case of my fishing hobby, absolutely not. As much as I want this rod and reel, it is not worth me selling and trading in all the other stuff I already have.
But, what if we up the stakes. Afterall fishing is jusyt my hobby. What if I apply this to real life? What is worth giving up everything? Well, when I met my wife, I gave up some stuff in my life because I wanted so bad to be with her. I wanted her to be exclusively mine, so I focused all attention on her and not on other girls. This was absolutely worth it. Or something else. Coming to be the pastor at Ward Ave. Presbyterian Church. When I contacted this church and got a response, I put all my eggs in the basket in order to get this job. I had a ton of interests form other churches, but I decided that I would focus all my attention on hoping to get hired at Ward Ave Presbyterian Church. I honestly just felt that God was telling me to go for it. That was scary, because I gave up everything to make sure I just focus on this one church that may even not hire me. I had a wife and a young child, and I knew that if I didn’t get the job at Ward Ave. Presbyterian Church, I would have to start the entire process over again. I would have wasted about 6-8 months of the hiring process. But again, everything worked out and it was definitely worth it.
Life is costly, and your Christian faith must be lived as if it costs you everything. Here is a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that I love.
“Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us
to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace
because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and
grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life
of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap
for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to
pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
I love these words! Just to think that wear I stand with Christ is only because of a God who was willing to risk everything. Grace is costly, because it costs God everything! I have to ask God, “was it worth it?” And I truly think that God would answer, “Absolutely!”
So just remember in life and faith, we will run into circumstances in which we will have to make such costly choices. God is asking us to give up our family, give up our security, but God is asking us to act courageously. And if we think we want to better improve our life, it will cost us. We will be at risk, we will have to gamble, and we will have to be bold. But that is part of the life that God has given us. Just always remember, when life gives you the opportunity that involves risk, know that God is with you and that God knows exactly how you feel because He has been there before, and regardless of the outcome, have no regrets. Remember, God gave us salvation, and it costed God everything, because it costed His only Son. Back then, God made that risky choice. And when we see the world today, not everyone even acknowledges Jesus the Messiah or even acknowledges the existence of God. The world seems to be broken in some places and sin is a unforgiving force that puts people in suffering. But God, made the choice, and I do not think that God has any regrets, on that day and today.
My kids grow up in a different age than I did. Probably the biggest difference is technology. Which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just different. Now here is the thing… I do not regulate the tablet or phone time my kids do. I do make sure that they watch or play games that are appropriate. But I found out that the things they do on the tablet and phone is making them learn faster and be incredibly creative. Those are all pluses in my mind!
But it’s funny the type of games they play on their tablet or phone. Currently, they are playing a game that the whole point is to clean the house, clean rooms, and take care of their pets. Both Norah and Ben each have a dog that they have to take care of in the game.
Ironically…. Norah and Ben have a REAL dog they CAN take care of in REAL LIFE, but they don’t. In their tablet world they enthusiastically take the dog out for real time walks, feed them, teach them obedience tricks, and gives them water. You know…. They could do this in real life with their real dog… Wouldn’t reality be more fun? Apparently not!
But then again, I do not know how much I could trust the kids to give our dog the correct amount of food, know when they have to take her out to go to the bathroom, or even be handle giving our 60lbs 6-month-old lab a neighborhood stroll.
I guess I can be happy that they are being virtually responsible and hopefully as they get older it taught them to be actually responsible!
And do you ever wonder if our faith is just like what I explained in the beginning of this article? I mean our faith is a mixture of a virtual world and a reality world. Our faith in the virtual world is like what we see in the church. The church is kind of like a fantasy world.
Think about it. The church stands outside of society. The church is the place that people of different political beliefs, social status, race, ethnicity, and family background comes together and establishes a peaceful utopia for a couple of hours on Sundays. The only thing that matters is that we come together without faith. Nothing from the outside world can penetrate this utopia of worship and fellowship. In the church, aka, the virtual world, we learn and practice how we treat other people with kindness, grace, forgiveness, and mercy. In the church, we smile, laugh, and even show vulnerability when we feel burdened by the world.
The church is in a way this protected world. And even at church we act and think differently from outside the church walls, that is in the world. And the world is our actual reality! It is where we establish ourselves all the time. Church is this small time of virtual reality. But the world is real, it is everything, it is actual. And to be honest, what we hope is that everything that we do, think, and are taught in the virtual world, aka. church would help us prepare for the actual reality. But sometimes it doesn’t translate.
In the actual world we find ourselves being overcome with life stressors and instead of mostly smiling, we frown. We can be short tempered with other people. We forget about things like forgiveness, grace, mercy, and kindness. We would never show our vulnerability like we would in the church, virtual world. You see the actual world is scary, unprotected, and threatening. We have to be on our guard, don’t we?
But maybe we don’t have to be like this. Maybe we can actually try to make an effort that everything that we do in the church aka virtual world is about training us to live in the real, actual world. We live out life authentically for, though, and by Christ. We cannot act, think, and speak differently when we are in church versus when we are in the world. So just think about the church as your training grounds or the place that not just trains you but equips you so that you can put your best foot forward into the world and may your “virtual” reality be the same as your “actual” reality.
So, Suzi broke her leash couple days ago. Yep, totally snapped at the cord. Just saw the tension, and snap! And as expected she took off! And her target was a group of fishermen at the Glendale Spillway. She rushed over to them; took a perch they just caught and ate it. Luckily, they were nice and in good spirit. They didn’t mind that Suzie just stole one of their catches. But all is good because I eventually caught a nice 12-inch perch and donated it to them.
But other than Suzie running off and stealing a fish, she was surprisingly well behaved when she was off her leash. She stayed relatively close to me, and she always came near me when I called her name. She of course was interested in other people, which I had little control over, but she was polite. Didn’t jump up and act like a maniac. She even got a little bit of leftover pizza crust from the nice fellas.
But I really was in a bit of a panic when Suzie broke her leash! I expected that she would just run off and I’d spend half of the day chasing after her and even I dreaded that she would be off, and I would lose her!
I learned two things. I am not quite ready to have her off the leash, even if she is ready. And also, I need to trust her a little more than I had before. I definitely underestimated her ability, awareness, attentiveness, and obedience.
But aren’t we sort of like that when it comes to our relationship with God? I mean, God just allows our faith to grow. And maybe when we were younger, God had us on the leash, making sure we don’t wander off too far. God provided us with a mom and dad that’s responsibility is to know from right and wrong. God gives us the opportunity to get into a church in hope that we understand important words like, grace, hope, forgiveness, and love. And as we get older, the hope is that not only does our leash get longer, but eventually, we will be off our leash. We have the freedom of doing what we feel is best in life.
Now when we are off the leash we are exposed to the world, which isn’t such a bad thing. We learn a ton of stuff from other friends, observe other peers, and dig our noses into the education that is provided from us. Through all the unleashed world will provide we make the decision on what to do next, what to believe, and how to behave. We will find out or have already found out that we don’t always make the best decision. Yes, sometimes we steal another person’s fish!
But honestly, we need to be off the leash, or maybe even break our leash in order for our faith to grow and strengthen. It is only through the full experience of life and the freedom of living that our faith becomes more and more solid. It is about making mistakes and learning. It is also bout trust.
Like I said earlier before in this blog, I am not quite ready to have Suzie off the leash completely. She still has a lot to mature. But I know she is getting there. However, God is very much comfortable with having us off our leash because God completely trusts us!
Maybe that is hard to believe, but it is true! God trusts us to make the better choices, God trusts us to live well and responsibly. God trusts us to be charitable, loving, kind, and forgiving to all the people we may meet. God even trusts us not to take another person’s fish!
But God also understands that we will make mistakes in life, and we will make mistakes often. That will not change His love or trust in us. However, because we have a strong foundation with Him, because we were “trained” earlier when we were on a leash, we still must stay close to Him. He knows that we will not drift too far off. Even when we are off the leash, we still need God to take care of us, feed us, give us a home, and give us encouragement.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).