From Liz Groman
(Opportunities Pastor)

On What We Can Do With What Bring

John 6:5-13 NIV When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

John 6:5-13 MSG When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do. Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.” One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted. When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.

I am continually amazed at how simply God works. Not enough food? I’ll just make it stretch - and stretch - and stretch until “All ate as much as they wanted”! Our “impossible to even imagine” is natural for Him. Like His students, we do not understand the power and possibility available to us in and through Him. No doubt we would have been thinking like Phillip and most of His team - “Feed all these people?!!! Do you know how much that will cost? Never mind finding enough even to buy out here!” Had they forgotten the miracles that had gone before - raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead, healing the woman with the issue of blood, calming the stormy sea, making wine from water and so many others? Perhaps Andrew remembered and had a ray of insightful hope when he brought the boy with the loaves and fish - “Here is all that we have to offer, but it cannot be enough.” He had seen Jesus do the impossible before, but how could so little be made into so much? Jesus always intended to provide the meal (“He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do.”), but He wanted to break through the barrier of “possibility” thinking in their minds so that they would embrace and flow in overcoming the impossible through the power that He provided for them. . It was not WHAT or HOW MUCH they brought that mattered but HOW WILLING they were to trust, believe and let Jesus use what they had.

My mom and dad were very gracious and always welcomed guests on a moment’s notice. They always wanted to have enough in case we had a few unexpected guests at the dinner table (a common occurrence). They were not happy unless everyone was full and we had leftovers. Meal stretching was an art in our home! However, we never had 5000+ to feed! This episode in the hands-on teaching of His disciples speaks to me of my limited understanding of the power of absolute submission and surrender. This story illustrates that all my talents, skills, abilities, resources, strengths - everything I can bring - are like the 5 small loaves and 2 small fishes ( like small or large mattered in the least!); they are completely insufficient until I surrender them into the hands of Jesus. I am also reminded of my human tendency to think that circumstances matter when God asks me to do something. Like Philip, I look at the immensity of the task and reckon the accomplishment to be impossible - with my resources and what is available to me - forgetting that the same God asking me to partner with Him is able to accomplish the task without my help, but, for some incomprehensible reason, wants me to share in the joy of seeing it come to pass. I marvel at God’s insistence on partnering with us to accomplish anything as we are like toddlers learning to bake (making more mess, taking more time, using more effort)! How like the toddling disciples I am! Just like the disciples and the toddler, as I let the Holy Spirit take the lead, adopt His plan/recipe and follow it, listen to His instructions and follow them, I will find understanding and joy in the results!

Father God, You are all-powerful and all-knowing and yet still so gracious, so loving, so patient toward us as we step out, wobble, stumble, fall and and You help us get up again. I cannot fathom why You love us so much and care so deeply about sharing the joy with us. As for me, help me to never limit You do by what I think is possible. Whatever I have and am is more than enough in Your hands. When I speak, let it be Your words that are heard. When I hug, let it be Your arms that are felt, Your love and care that remain long after I am gone. Lord Jesus, help me to understand and embrace complete surrender, total submission to You, so that Your Holy Spirit will be free to use me in accomplishing the humanly impossible. I pray all of this in the name of Jesus. Make it so!