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I’m always amazed at the strength of those who are walking through devastating times but still trusting God, even when their life makes no sense.
Every time before I speak, I get down on my knees and ask God to do what only He can do. When I first look out at a room of smiling faces I’ve no idea what’s going on deep inside, but He does and by the power of the Holy Spirit miracles happen. In those profound moments I’m always reminded of the story where Christ fed five thousand people on a hillside. The account is in all four gospels, but Mark gives a detail that the others miss. Understanding that one simple detail, the question Christ asks His friends, has shifted my entire perspective on ministry.
“Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.”
But Jesus said, “You feed them.”
“With what?” they asked. “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people!”
“How much bread do you have?” he asked. “Go and find out.”
They came back and reported, “We have five loaves of bread and two fish.’”
In biblical times, only the men were counted in a crowd so, if you had five thousand men there must have been at least nine or ten thousand people, adding in women and children. That’s an arena-size crowd. Do you think in a crowd of that size the only food available was the little boy’s lunch? I don’t think so. If there were women on the hillside that day, there were snacks. Women are always prepared with something in case their children get hungry and start making a fuss. I imagine that no one else offered up their food, either because they didn’t think it would be enough or they didn’t want to share. The only one to give what he had was the little boy with five small barley loaves and two little fish. He gave what was clearly not enough and then Jesus did what only He can do.
“Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed.”
It was a miracle on the hillside that day but the principle applies to us as well. We’ll never have enough to fulfill all the demands made on us, but that’s okay. We’re not supposed to have enough. We’re supposed to bring what we have, our clearly not enough, to Jesus and ask Him to meet us where we are.
When we give Jesus our not enough He blesses it and breaks it and He feeds His people. Understanding that principle has shifted something deep inside me. I will never have enough to touch the needs of everyone in a crowd, whether it’s a crowd of fifty or a crowd of ten thousand but I’m not asked to. Jesus simply asked me, “What do you have?”
I love this detail that John includes as he tells the same story,
“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people.” John 6:11
Jesus thanked his Father for the not enough given up by one little boy. The spiritual principle of bringing the little we have and trusting Christ to meet us there, applies across all areas of life, not just in what we perceive as ministry situations. I look at all of life as ministry, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It’s become a daily habit of mine to acknowledge every morning that I don’t have enough for the challenges that day will hold and I ask Christ to meet me there. When you and I do that, Christ gives thanks. In our humanity we are bowing the knee to our Lord and Savior and acknowledging that He is God and we are not. To offer up the little we have in faith is a gift to Jesus. I find it significant that once the crowd had eaten as much as they wanted, there were twelve baskets left over, one for each disciple. These were not the delicate little baskets that we put dinner rolls in. These were the large baskets that Roman soldiers kept their swords in. It’s as if Jesus is saying to his closest friends,
“Do you get it now? Do you understand? You’ll never have enough but that’s not the point. In me there is more than enough.”
Whatever it is that you’re facing right now, Christ invites you to bring who you are and what you have or don’t have to Him in honesty and humility and wait with Him there.
Lord, I don’t have enough energy, I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough patience, I’m not enough.
As we wait before him, the invitation comes,
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
A yoke is something that is laid over the shoulders of two oxen. They bear the weight together. Christ’s invitation to us is greater. He will walk beside us and carry the weight.
This article is an excerpt from It's Okay Not To Be Okay. Used with permission.
Sheila Walsh is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and bestselling author with more than 5 million books sold. She is the author of the award-winning Gigi, God's Little Princess and In the Middle of the Mess. She is cohost of LIFE Today with James and Betty Robison and her Wednesdays in the Word program, with more than 100 million viewers. Walsh is a popular speaker and Bible teacher around the world, including New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, Barry, their son, Christian, and their three pups, Belle, Tink, and Maggi.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Felipe Elioenay