We read the news, we see the posts on social media, we hear of the real-life heartaches and hardships around us and we want to help. We do. But we lack finances, time, and talent. Personally, I want to see mighty acts of healing, conversion, and forgiveness. I grow discouraged because all I have to offer is so meager, so earthly. I hoped to deliver something sacred, lasting. I don’t want to give a simple card or a homemade meal. I hear myself agreeing with Go Big or Go Home. How about we get to stop over to visit a friend and drop off a cure for cancer. That would be fun, once, wouldn’t it?
Lest We Lose All Hope
Before we lose all hope, let’s remember whose job it is to save, to heal, to convert, and to sanctify. Not ours. Not really. It is God’s job and we might get to be a useful vessel—maybe. Before we judge our gift as too simple or materialistic, let’s remember what Jesus used to perform some mighty acts.
And the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. – John 2:9
The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see. – John 9:11
Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many? – John 6:9
About That Lunch
The story is a familiar one. Little children hear of the day Jesus fed 5000 men with a little boy’s lunch in Sunday school. Teachers pass out art activities to recreate the passage from the gospel of John.
It went something like this. Jesus was off the shore of the Sea of Galilee and a great crowd followed him because they had seen him performing miracles of healing. Jesus went up the mountainside to pray. When we looked up and saw this enormous crowd, estimated around 5000. BIG CROWD. HUNGRY CROWD. Jesus poses a question to his closest friends, where should we buy bread for these people to eat? (It was a test!)
Philip didn’t answer Jesus’s question. But he did respond. Indignantly. It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each to have one bite!
Andrew chimed in with an answer but added his skepticism to his reply, here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, BUT (he had to add the but) how far will that go among so many?
Jesus basically met the doubts and impossibilities with, watch this! He told the disciples to have them sit down, then he took those barley loaves and those little fish and he said THANK YOU, FATHER and then He fed everyone. Not one bite each, but fed to satisfaction. Full. To the point of having twelve baskets of leftovers. Jesus—always abundant, never wasteful.
What We Offer is Enough
Delivering miracles? We can offer in faith our meager “things” with love to those on our paths and God will transform them into something sacred. We don’t have to worry about how He will take what we give and make it be exactly what someone needs. We just need to trust that He can and He will. Why not? He took water and changed it into wine to save a wedding host from embarrassment. He took mud and plastered it onto blind eyes and they could see. He took a lunch from a kid and fed over 5000 hungry adults.
Most often, we have nothing more than some water, some mud, and some fish. Things. A card, a visit, a kind word—imagine what God can do with those! He somehow turns our tiny offering into that which restores faith. He can transform our simple gift into the very thing that softens a hard heart. He can change whatever we give into that which brings abundant joy to an otherwise difficult day.
Where is My Faith?
Am I more like Andrew or Philip? Andrew just looked at the logic. He pulled common sense out of his pocket, did the math and told Jesus it was ridiculous to even suggest feeding all these people. Couldn’t they just go home and find their own food? Really.
Philip, on the other hand, was a bit more clever in his approach. He wasn’t as honest with his doubt. He cleverly cloaked his answer with a but. How often do I do that? Say that God can do anything, but… Say that He is in control, but… God cares, but…
Philip looked around for a way to say what Andrew said: it’s too much to consider, it’s impossible, but if you want to feed a few, here’s some bread and fish.
And what does faith look like, anyway?
I hope I can do better than the disciples did with Jesus. I hope I can be more like the little boy who gave up his meal in obedience to watch the miraculous unfold before his very eyes. But I wonder. Can I simply answer Jesus with a faithful response? Do I need to add a qualifying “but” at the end? When I hear Him say, What do you have to give to your friend in need? Can I confidently, humbly say–all I have is this simple gift, but I trust You can do anything with it. Do with it what you will. And rest assured He will satisfy a need sufficiently, with leftovers–because He won’t waste a thing. Using my plain, simple, small, and insignificant offering and delivering a miracle.
It sounds impossible but that is exactly what Jesus majors in—doing the impossible!