Watch a video sample of teaching from Breathe:
Every single one of them is astounding, shocking, and overwhelming. Have you ever experienced one? An instance when God suspended the regular way that the universe functions to interject His activity? Goodness gracious, I have.
I wish we could share our experiences with each other. What a conversation that would be recounting the unusual activity of God in our lives. And actually, that's a good definition for a miracle that you and I can hang on to together: miracles are, by nature, unusual. They are unnatural occurrences that can only be accredited to the Divine.
If you can't put your finger on very many in your life and if, like me, you have a thirst for as many of them as God will graciously allow, I've got some good news for you: implementing Sabbath margin is one of the best places to begin.
Turns out, the Sabbath is a breeding ground for miracles.
In fact Exodus 16 records an unusual and subtle little miracle. In the desert when the Israelites gathered their fresh, new-every-morning manna, the Bible says that "some gathered a lot, some a little." But "when they measured it by quarts, the person who gathered a lot had no surplus, and the person who gathered a little had no shortage" (vv. 17-18). Like the multiplication of the loaves and fish (see Matt. 14:13-21), God made everyone's gathered manna just right for their need.
But on the sixth day when they got back from their morning manna ritual, they found that they'd "gathered twice as much food, four quarts apiece" (Ex. 16:22), which would have been reasonable and understandable had the people spent twice as much time hunched over the desert sand that was laced with heaven's cornflakes that morning. Twice as much gathered for twice as much work. That makes sense, but that's not what happened. Each person, having spent just as much time and effort as normal, had raked in twice the result.
The people's leaders, shocked to see the robust bounty of their work, frantically reported to Moses the surprising outcome of the day's gleanings. But really, they shouldn't have been stunned at all. Can't you just picture Moses staring at them blankly, shaking his head and sighing as he replied, "This is what God was talking about ..." (v. 23, MSG).
Indeed, this is exactly what Yahweh had already said He would do for them. As they honored the seventh-day margin, God would give a double provision on the sixth-day in order to sustain the Israelites. And they wouldn't have to work overtime to reap it.
They wouldn't go hungry on the Sabbath, and they wouldn't need to make an extra trip to the wilderness "grocery store" to be sure of it. They didn't need to concern themselves with where their babies and elderly would find their nourishment. Yahweh had taken care of that. All they had to do was honor the Sabbath, and they could expect to receive His full supply; his double-portion supply.
God repeats this miracle of provision over and over in history and in the experience of His children even today. When we curtail our efforts and interests in obedience to the Spirit's conviction, resisting the gnawing sense of guilt or compulsion to keep pressing beyond the boundaries, beyond that which honors God, He will bless our obedience and sustain us. He will miraculously give twice the harvest, twice the fulfillment, twice the return, even though we haven't done anything more to garner it.
Unusual. Double portions always are.
But sadly, I've often been unable to relish God's double-portion miracle for me. And I think you probably know the feeling. Because believing that doing less can somehow produce more requires a resilient faith. It takes an unshakable, concrete trust in God, the kind that won't topple even in an earthquake of doubt, to maintain the confidence that allows you to stop, even when everything in you and around you says keep going. Keep pushing. Keep gathering. Keep persisting.
That's hard for a slave, so we're not surprised to see (in Exodus 16:20) that some of the newly freed slaves found a caveat for their weak faith in Yahweh. They decided to hoard God's provision, just in case this Sabbath thing didn't work the way they planned. We aren't told if they actually gathered more than what they needed, or if they deprived themselves in order to stretch what they had. Either way, they sought to store up manna beyond that which Yahweh had permitted. And the results were universally bad ... and smelly.
God wanted them to trust in Him, not in their ability to provide for themselves. He wanted to give them a double-portion miracle so they could see what it felt like. But they couldn't experience it as long as their bent toward scarcity persisted. What's worse, they had missed out on the opportunity to see God do what He does best: be God.