November 22, 2012

Abundance

Driving home from the grocery store this week with a car full of all the makings for our Thanksgiving feast, my thoughts went to another feast.  Not the pilgrims first Thanksgiving at Plymouth, but a feast from the scriptures where Jesus miraculously fed a crowd of over five thousand.

"Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. 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, “Eight months’ wages would not 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 the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 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. After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 
~John 6: 1-14

There are several parts of this story that touch my heart... just the compassion alone that Jesus showed the people is stunning.  They were poor and needy and sick and in Mark it says, "at the sight of them his heart broke, for they were like sheep without a shepherd." (6:34) Though Jesus was weary from teaching and healing many and longed for solitude and a chance to rest, he still lovingly welcomed the enormous crowd and continued to heal their sick and teach them about the kingdom of God.

His heart towards them is remarkably beautiful, but there's another heart that stands out to me as well and that is the heart of the young boy.  In my mind's eye, I picture this adorable, scrappy, little guy who stands back in the crowd and watches this man, this Jesus, heal the sick, make the blind see, the lame walk and he is blown away.  He is amazed and wowed by what he sees and his heart is quickly and easily won by Christ.  He instantly believes and he would give anything, even his lunch, to this mighty man who speaks truth and loves well.  The boy gives all he has... his five little loaves and his two small fish to Jesus and Jesus blesses his gift, gives thanks for it, and turns it into an ample abundance.  There is plenty of food to go around for all the people and even when they are satisfied, there are baskets upon baskets of leftovers.

Oh, how I love this story... the kindness and generosity of Christ, the beautiful and faithful heart of the boy.  Surely he was smitten with Jesus, in awe of his glory and deeply honored that God would use him and the gift of his lunch to feed thousands.  God saw his heart, his faith and willingness, and even though he was just a boy, he gave him a part to play in his kingdom.  He used his gift to abundantly bless and nourish the multitude.

The glorious part of this story is that the same is true for us.  We, just like the boy, have something to offer and a part to play that no one else can.  God can and wants to do great things with us... with our gifts, our own unique versions of the five loaves and two fish.  He asks only for our hearts... our faith, our willingness, our love.  Then, he can work in, through and with us to abundantly accomplish his purposes and draw others to himself and to his kingdom.  To partner with God... what joy and honor.


"God has done great things for us and we are filled with joy."
 ~Psalm 126:3

"From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another." 
~John 1:16

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 
which God prepared in advance for us to do."
 ~Ephesians 2:10


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