Part 1 of Are You Feeding the 5000? This is the first of a 3 part series written over Matthew 14: 13-21. Stay tuned for the second and third blogs the following 2 Mondays!
What are your loaves and fishes?
It's an interesting question- one that I was struck by this morning at church. The sermon was not specifically about this, nor did it ask this question, but I felt like this was the first of 3 that God impressed on my heart. So you, my dear readers, get to help me answer this on my own and perhaps work out your personal answers as well.
Strap up, and let's dig in...
In Matthew 14 we read the well-known story of Jesus feeding 5000 men (not including women and children, so in actuality the crowd was closer to 15,000-20,000!) with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Most people are familiar with the story, the miraculous multiplication of the food in order to feed everyone (if you don't know it or want a refresher, read it here.)
I think often, with miracles like this in the Bible, as voyeurs reading these passages some 2000ish years later we tend to generally mute the awesomeness of such a happening. Since this miracle doesn't include supernatural healing or raising people from the dead, we too quickly put it in a different category. Maybe it's not as dramatic, immediate, or sudden as many of the others- so it's not looked at as such. I mean, seriously, it's simply about a large amount of smelly fish, some old bread, and a ton of tired and hungry people. Not exactly the most glamorous setting. Yet this was no less fantastic than any of the others... and in some ways, I feel like it has much more impact as an example to us today as the other's we subconsciously see as "more miraculous." It's the only miracle of Jesus that is mentioned in all 4 gospels, so it must have had quite the impact on the writer's (aside from the resurrection).
The immediate question that begs to be answered is why didn't Jesus just simply and suddenly cause food to appear out of nothing? I envision Him saying "Let there be FOOD!" in a booming voice and immediately plates of piping hot food appear in everyone laps. But that's not how it happened.
This particular miracle was not immediate, or sudden, or instantaneous... it evolved over time.
And Jesus, for unknown reasons, required a couple of things in order for it to unfold. He required some food to start with and laborers to distribute it. As mentioned, He absolutely could have spoke food into being without a "starter" (much like He did with the Israelites in the desert), but in this case, He wanted to show something more profound. He wanted to show what He could (can!) do with very little... with not enough... with meager... with insufficient.
He took from a young man, a freely given offering; one which was ridiculously small and insufficient in comparison to the need and the purpose of what they were trying to do. And yet after praying for it, as we all know those 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish fed upwards of 20,000 people.... to full.... with baskets of extra left over.
Jesus took the meager and made it massive, magnificent, major... choose your favorite "M" word.
He made it miraculous.
He does the same today. Potential for making the meager into the miraculous lies in every one of us. God desires to feed the 5000 that are looking us in the eyes and needing to be fed (stay tuned for more on that in the second part!) But too often we see the crowd, we know the need, we feel His calling to feed them... and we look down into our basket of food and get caught up in the loaves and fishes we have to offer. Or the lack thereof...
One-hundred percent of the time what we can bring to the table of miracles is very little.. is not enough... is meager... is insufficient. We don't have the time, enough money, the energy, the 'heart', the experience, the education, the contacts, the popularity, the intelligence... the list goes on and on. And we get hopelessly entrenched in the pitiful appearance of our little basket of bread and fish.
His basket of opportunity turns into our basket of excuses.
I would ask the main question again to you dear one- look down into your basket, what are your loaves and fishes? What are your excuses? Why are you not giving those to God to let Him multiply, magnify, and make into miracles?
What would have happened if that kid assumed his meager offering of food wasn't enough? A lot of people potentially would have gone hungry and he for sure would have missed out on being a part of the most chronicled miracle of the Bible. What a missed opportunity!! It was such a small sacrifice to give... which is the irony of it- God asks so very little of us to make into miracles.
The very reason we don't want to give is the very reason it should be so easy to give. The smallness of the offering.
Would you prefer He required a larger one? You can't have it both ways.
I pray that my basket of excuses doesn't cause me to miss out on the miracles God is wanting to do with my involvement! I want to look at what little I have and offer it all... regardless of how meager it may seem. I want to see the God-possibility in it instead of the insufficiency. We will never be enough, good enough, or have enough to give to Him- after all God doesn't need us- but He does ask us to give what we have. I love that He allows us to play a part in the cosmos, though He most certainly doesn't require our participation. It is most generous of Him!
Take an inventory of what your situation is today. Look out at the crowd and start identifying them (again stay tuned for that next Monday!) and for now, look within your basket and what's inside. Instead of the meager, look at it as miraculous. What is He asking you to donate to the crowds today... and will you do it?