Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Creative multiplication

Jesus, I love that you never get overwhelmed. Not by circumstances or by personalities, not by sin or by need, not by nature or by disease, and not by biological reasons, like hormones or lack of sleep. Time and time again when I come back to the story of you feeding the thousands of people, I’m first of all captivated by the fact that you didn’t run. If I had a horde of thousands of hungry, tired people flocking to me, I think I might run. I might hide. I might roll my eyes, let out an exasperated sigh, and mutter about why they couldn’t just leave me alone for a day. And that’s precisely one of a bazillion reasons why I’m not you. I get overwhelmed.

I love that you are incredibly resourceful in your creativity. Sometimes you create something out of nothing, but equally amazing are the times when you use what’s right in front of you to bring provision. You work with what you’ve got, even though you could pull a rabbit out of a non-existent hat if you wanted. And you did that in this story, when you fed the thousands.

I can really resonate with the disciples’ question when they took inventory of what resources they had to work with and brought the report back to you.

It wasn’t impressive by our standards. “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” (John 6:9)

Man, does that hit home with me, Father. You ask what I have. I scramble around checking my pockets and wallet and refrigerator, my bedroom drawers and all my purses, my emotional reservoire and my dayplanner. And then I come back to you, saying, I’ve got sixty-five cents, a passport, a jar of peanut butter, a couple hours on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon and an emotional capacity of supporting one hurting person, but what good is that with so much need? Or, I’ve got a Master’s degree I’m not using; a decade of occasional spurts of focused pursuit in a direction, sprawling between long bouts of foggy wandering; I’ve got old dreams that are growing dusty and current dreams without an action plan; but what are they among so many?

Oh, me of little faith. I’m every bit as guilty as these dense disciples who, in chapter fourteen of Matthew witnessed your miraculous multiplication of resources and freaked out in chapter fifteen when the same scenario mysteriously happened again.

How many times have you taken my table scraps and made a feast for someone else to dine on? I don’t even know, but I do know it’s happened. I remember some of those humbling moments when, after feeling like I have nothing but cheese and crackers to offer someone, I stand back and watch you go to town like Julia Childs. And they leave not only satisfied; they leave blessed, encouraged, strengthened. You let me be the one to pass out the food, but it’s you who does the multiplication.

I never need to wonder if there will be enough with you. I never need to wonder if what I have to offer is enough for you to work with. If all it takes is faith the size of a teeny tiny mustard seed for you to move a mountain, then any little bit I have to bring to the table is enough for you to do something incredible, among one person or among so many. I'll just bring you what I have.

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