We couldn't help it. We were laughing, right there in church. The Bible readings were all about God's goodness in sustaining the Israelites after they had escaped from Egypt and crossed the Red Sea. There was nothing to eat, but God fed them all with what has come to be called manna.
Then came that verse from Exodus: "And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat" (Ex. 16:15). It's a beautiful and well known story. But the church service was in Spanish, and there was a lot of noise coming in from the street. Somehow, what we thought we heard was, "These are the pancakes which the Lord hath given you to eat."
In the end, our chuckles caused us to think more seriously about the story. The Bible promises that God's goodness is available to help us in our daily lives.
Bible stories continually provide their readers with assurances of God's presence. Often these events are called miracles, happenings that are inexplicable but illustrative of God's All-power.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, described miracle in her major work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," as "that which is divinely natural, but must be learned humanly; a phenomenon of Science" (pg. 591).
The divinely natural event, the grace of God, always seems to run in the face of conventional wisdom, the humanly natural. But that is the mission of Christ, which comes to humanity in a natural way that sometimes seems miraculous to us. It's right to expect our prayerful reading of the Bible to provide unexpected but divinely natural solutions.
A few years ago, our son was readying himself for college, and he chose a university whose costs were within our means. It was a good school, and we were pleased with his choice. Although it was a financial stretch, we could afford it.
Right after his freshman year, however, we were transferred. We had been living and working in a "hardship location," where I had received a salary bonus to offset difficult local conditions. Those conditions didn't exist in our new assignment and, suddenly, to my consternation, I was bringing home a salary that was 20 percent below what I'd been used to getting. We were in trouble and needed a "miracle" to help us complete our son's education.
We prayed to God, knowing that He would lead us to a solution, and we found a wonderful feeling of peace.
But I wasn't making any more money. Our son, meanwhile, had been voluntarily participating in a professional program during his freshman year. Now, when we so needed a "miracle," the administrators of the program decided to award him a full scholarship for the rest of his college years, even though his academics had not been at the level one would normally associate with such an award. However, it was a divinely natural occurrence.
Participation in the program, besides being such a financial blessing for us, gave him a niche on a campus of tens of thousands of students and a couple of summer jobs in interesting parts of the country. He contributed significantly to his campus, assisted in community-service projects and disaster-relief exercises, and, most important, gained a mature sense of God's direction. But the benefits didn't stop there.
He was able to enter full-time employment that began immediately after his graduation. He continues to benefit his community and expand his capabilities as a result of this experience. We learned that the divinely natural way cuts through all obstacles to accomplish its purpose, and everyone has been blessed all the way through.
The prayer that acknowledges God as the forever All-power brings results. I learned that it's important not to try to dictate our terms to God, to outline just how such-and-such a problem will be solved to our benefit. Instead, by turning to the one infinite Mind, the best solution might be an unexpected one, like pancakes in the desert.