I love it when I suddenly see an old, familiar scripture through new eyes. Well, it can be kind of scary too; it fills me with awe when I realize I’ve stumbled on something not of my own thinking or understanding. This week, my heart became burdened for an older single woman. She carries the wounds of divorce and is additionally burdened by obsessive compulsive traits, probably the scars of trying to cope with a very out-of-control life. She is disabled, and is currently trying to care for her aging mother who is slipping into dementia. It all seems like too much already, and to complicate her week, she had to try to move her mother’s belongings out of an apartment before the next month’s rent was overdue. I watched as she was overwhelming herself trying to do it on her own … afraid … or unable to ask for help. So I asked for her.
All too often I run ahead of God trying to work things all out before seeking His way. I guess in that way, I’m a lot like her, my spiritual OCD taking over instead of waiting for God’s better, and often very different plan. I suppose I did that this time too, at least a little. I went to the church, trying to find some help to move boxes and furniture the next day … calling, thinking, planning … frustrated with maybe’s and no’s … and by my lack of control in the planning. I tried to resist the condemning thoughts in my head: “Don’t these people KNOW how hard it is to feel alone?” “Why isn’t the CHURCH able to step up and serve like we are supposed to?” “Where do I go for help if I can’t find believers to help?”
Tied up with other commitments, I finally let go and waited … mostly because I had no other choice. By this morning, God had used His own means, and even some of my frantic, frail efforts for her good, to meet her needs. Four teenage boys, a couple with a truck, a man just moved to serve someone he didn’t even know, even me with a heart being taught to serve others instead of myself. There was even more … offers of help from various friends … not the abundance I imagined or wanted to see, but enough … and more than enough.
Out of no where, a scripture came to mind:
That evening the 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 villages and buy food for themselves.”
But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.
“Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
Matt 14:15-21 (NLT)
As that scripture flowed from the recesses of my memory, my crazy visual mind pictured small loaves of bread and a few fish carrying boxes, moving furniture, caring for an old woman. Believers and unbelievers, working together, being used by the same God to meet the needs of a hungry, desperate woman. Going back to the scripture, I saw it … Jesus’ command: “YOU feed them.” Not “Feed them what you have.” nor “Feed them what you can find.” Not, “Yes, send them to where they can find food,” but “Feed them YOURSELVES.”
I think that is exactly what he meant too. Not just look for food and fill their bellies, but look into their eyes, touch them, meet their needs. Jesus wanted His followers to love them. And the result? Not merely enough, but ABUNDANCE! (I’ve always wondered what happened to the leftovers. If I know my Jesus, they didn’t go to waste!)
It dawned on me: When Jesus’ people give a little to meet the needs God presents around them, they end up giving a lot. A few people accomplish the work of dozens. a small sum of money buys more than expected, wounds aren’t just tended, but are healed! We ARE the loaves! We ARE the fish! God uses us to meet the needs of a hungry, dying world, and as we make ourselves available, he multiplies what we have to offer … what we ARE … so that we can meet overwhelming, unquenchable need.
My vision for my friend was a dozen or so strong young guys with a trailer and trucks, quickly moving furniture and possessions around. God’s vision was to do it with a few teenage boys, a couple, a man, and two pickup trucks. My plan would have gotten the job done. His completed the job AND brought Him glory in unexpected ways!
In my plan, I was going to help move stuff. Instead, I spent the day not carrying loads like I planned, but keeping an old woman company like God planned. But I was doing one more thing, like my Jesus did when he fed over 5000 people.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them.
Luke 9:16 (NIV)
Even now I’m thanking Him, again and again, for gifts I didn’t expect, but was allowed to see:
#368 seeing God put together more help than necessary
#369 S & A – willing hearts to serve
#370 C & M – willing hearts to serve and examples to follow
#371 one more thing asked of me that I am able to do
#372 another afternoon of quiet to read, pray, think – unexpected
# 373 New meaning in a familiar scripture, revealing to me the heart of God
#374 One man serving someone he didn’t even know … just because he was aware of a need … and his Savior’s call to him.