With this sometimes oh so tedious pandemic that just seems to go and on, there’s a risk that overwhelming fatigue and despair can settle into my spirit. As you process the latest pivots to your school’s learning delivery, perhaps you’re feeling this same sense of fatigue and despair. Waiting and wondering is hard work which can exhaust the most resilient leader.
Leading through this extended COVID season often feels like wandering through a wasteland where the vista never seems to change, and the demands and obstacles just seem to increase. You may wonder how you can continue leading schools towards a flourishing vision, when your soul seems to be drying up as you pour yourself out, providing for the needs of others, and making decision after decision, knowing that many will be unhappy no matter what. You may worry as you wait for the government to make their decisions known. You worry about impact on mental health for students and staff. You may worry about enrollment, finances, and so much more. These challenges can rob you of your joy, your courage, and even limit your capacity for leading well.
Moses was in this position too, but he was tasked with a more challenging job than leading a school. He was responsible for over 600,000 people who were reluctant, to say the least, to ‘pivoting’ away from what they knew, even while on the journey towards freedom–people who complained and fretted about where they would get enough food to eat. But we know the end of this story. God did not leave Moses and the people he was leading. He intervened in a big way using something quite small: white flakes, like dried, mashed potatoes.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day…I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning, you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’” Exodus 16:4,12
Notice the scripture says, “Enough for that day,”; not enough for the week, not enough for the month, not even enough for two days…just enough for that day.
There is a lesson in this story for you today, no matter your role as you navigate through the wilderness of COVID. You may not be able to answer all the questions that are put before you by parents, teachers, or board members. You may not be able to predict the length of the lockdown or whether a COVID outbreak will occur in your school or when schools can be fully open again. However, you can be certain of one thing: God's grace, like manna, will be sufficient for today. God is on this journey with you and you can claim that truth each morning as you prepare for a new day. You may not see a pillar of fire ahead, but you have the assurance of His Spirit, the Comforter, living in your heart. That knowledge should give courage and hope as you wander in this COVID desert.
Like manna, God’s grace cannot be stored, He provides it daily. Just like the Israelites were instructed, you must wake up in the morning, go out and gather the day’s supply. Just as I am certain not all the Israelites had the same kind of basket as they gathered their daily manna (each one used what was right for them), you too need to find your own way of gathering the day’s supply. For some, it may be gathered in a quiet prayer and meditation at the start of the day. Others may find the day’s portion in a praise song which fills the soul with hope and inspiration. For others, it may simply be a silent drive to school as you listen for God’s voice. No matter how you do it, it is important that the manna–God’s provision of grace–be gathered daily. Through this gathering, each of you will be given what is needed in your circumstance.
God will give you the grace you need to see you through this day. Go to Him and He will be there, ready to give you a fresh and ample supply to sustain you through the day. Eat your fill, savour today’s flavour, and be filled with its freshness, knowing it is enough! Tomorrow there will more to gather. Hold onto the promises of Lamentations 3:21-23: “This I recall to my mind; therefore, I have hope. The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease. For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.”
Marianne Vangoor is the Leader in Residence at Edvance.