The other night I caught the last ten minutes of “Extreme Couponing.” The producers ended the show by scanning through numerous stocked pantries. Boxes and boxes of crackers sat next to row after row of Gatorade. More than one family could possibly eat in a life-time, and these women were proud of their stock pile. They were proud that their pantries were stuffed to the brim with more food than they could eat, while millions starve daily.

It’s easy to become a hoarder. Maybe not to the extreme of those coupon-clipping ladies, but we all like to have our safety nets. Our nest eggs. Our guarantees. We lived in Louisiana when Katrina hit. Although we lived far enough away from the storm to stay safe, the entire state experienced heartache as Katrina victims flooded our towns, churches, and made-shift shelters. Seeing such devastation led to a lot of “what-iffing” and soon the local stores were stripped bare. Why? Because everyone stocked their pantries with water and staples in case another storm hit.

But does God want us to stock pile? Does God want us focused on ourselves? The other day my sister shared a story with me that illustrated the truth presented in the biblical account of manna. To recap, the Israelites were wandering through the desert, not knowing where they would sleep each night nor what lay ahead. And what normally happens when we face the unknown? We spiral in fear. We stock pile. We spin safety nets. God promised to provide for their needs, but a few of the Israelites grew anxious. What if God forgot a day, or changed his mind? So they gathered more manna than they needed, only it didn’t do them any good. In fact, their manna rotted, creating quite a stench!

The other day my sister shared a modern-day manna story. After the recent economic downturn, stock market crash, upheaval in other countries, sky-rocketing gas prices and political unrest in America, she and her husband decided to prepare for the “what-ifs”. They stocked their basement shelves with numerous food items, including vacuum sealed potatoes. A few months later, a nasty stench emanated from their basement. At first they thought perhaps their sewage system had backed up. Yep, it was that bad.

But nope, it wasn’t sewage. Their “manna” had rotted. After searching their basement, they found their bag of potatoes, ballooned by the gases formed during decomposition. To my sister, this was a vivid reminder not to hoard and stock pile but instead, to trust in God.

I wrote an article about this for the Christian Pulse and it will go live on June 14th. I’ll try to link to it, although I’ll be in El Salvador and potentially without internet access, so no promises.

Before I leave, think back over the account of the New Testament church. Find any hoarders? Nope. What we see are men and women so madly in love with Jesus they do whatever it takes to see His church expanded and His love made known. God doesn’t want us to self-preserve. He wants us to lay it all on the alter, daily.

Are you doing that? If not, what area of your life do you need to release?

Mark 8:34-35 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  (NIV)