Introductory Note:

This essay hits a tender spot in my heart. Melanie Gillgrist, who is Renovaré’s bookkeeper and a dear member of our staff, has a gift for noticing God’s movements and communicating spiritual truths with grace and beauty. She writes here about feeling a connection to the Israelite’s struggle with trust and contentment during the Exodus. Of course, Exodus was both a time of miraculous liberation and of facing internal battles that continue to bind us. Clinging to control, grasping for more... these are things that hold us back from free abandonment to God’s goodness. But God invites us into spaces and activities that help us loosen our grip. In the “spaciousness of summer,” Melanie was able to welcome God’s reign with fresh abandon, which became poignantly clear as the weather and rhythms of fall began.

Grace Pouch
Content Manager

The Peo­ple of Israel went to work and start­ed gath­er­ing, some more, some less, but when they mea­sured out what they had gath­ered, those who gath­ered more had no extra and those who gath­ered less weren’t short — each per­son had gath­ered as much as was needed.”
Exo­dus 16:17 – 18

I didn’t write this sum­mer. Scratch that. I wrote a ton. In my heart and in watch­ing the clouds. In the sand and late morn­ings sleep­ing in. On mean­der­ing walks in our neigh­bor­hood. Some­times on paper. But rarely typed words. 

The spa­cious­ness of sum­mer slowed me down. My son had com­plet­ed his first year of being in school all day, so this sum­mer was more defined, more antic­i­pat­ed. The rhythm of life felt glo­ri­ous and care­free and new.

But it didn’t start that way. As June approached, clenched in my fists were plans and top­ics and post­ing timeta­bles: my self-imposed writ­ing sched­ule. But VBS came and one fin­ger loos­ened its grip. A week at the shore and a few more uncurled. Vis­its from friends not seen in years, a whole hand released. And by mid-sum­mer, the hands that had clutched what I thought should be were raised high in the air, sur­ren­dered to the mak­er of all.

The Israelites and I are com­pan­ions. I rushed ahead try­ing to gath­er more. More than will tru­ly nour­ish. More than I need­ed for the sum­mer days. And it got wormy and smelly, and I became dis­tract­ed and off-cen­ter. His man­na is enough. He is enough.

We scooped the sum­mer man­na in our arms, enjoyed each day and gone. But the mem­o­ries of God’s pro­vi­sion and grace stay. The sto­ries of our sum­mer, of our notic­ing God in big and small moments, of mile­stones and sameness…those sto­ries linger on in this tran­si­tion­al sea­son — my bridge from sum­mer to fall. I look back­ward and for­ward and see the gift we were given.

Now rou­tine and har­vest call out to us. And I mar­vel at the okay-ness of this space that sat silent while we played. The okay-ness of sea­sons of life and call­ings and the gen­tle whis­pers that float in the sum­mer breeze. The air that turns crisp and calls me back to structure.

The real­iza­tion that I don’t have to do it all, all of the time. That not writ­ing for a few months doesn’t mean not writ­ing for­ev­er. I don’t need to rush and get all of life in right now. It will come to me in its time. And yet in that para­dox, I expe­ri­ence more of the full­ness of life in the cur­rent moment.

In the let­ting go, the unclench­ing of hands, there is free­dom. I can breathe. And I have eyes to see that God has got it under con­trol. He rains down nour­ish­ment we have nev­er heard of. I say What is this?, but He knows it will be enough. For each day. For today.

He nev­er grows weary. Oh… but I do. And I need night­time and sab­bath and sum­mer. They are my teach­ers, reveal­ing my lim­its. By design, they chal­lenge my overblown sense of self-impor­tance. I sleep and the world keeps spin­ning. I enter Sab­bath rest and my fam­i­ly still func­tions. I take a longer than expect­ed walk with our new pup­py and we order take out. I spend a sum­mer away and still know how to write. 

When I embrace my lim­its, his unlim­it­ed pow­er and grace take cen­ter stage. And even more amaz­ing than that, his invi­ta­tion to rest is para­dox­i­cal. In the rest, He shares his strength and peace with me. Filled up, not alone, so that I can over­flow again. His man­na is enough for today. Again.

Pho­to by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Text First Published October 2022 · Last Featured on Renovare.org October 2022

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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