Just a few pieces of fish and bread. Yep, that’s what it took to interrupt six months of excuses. You see, God’s been urging me quietly, and loudly, to write for quite some time. He’s been beckoning me to share what He has been teaching me. But I’ve had so many reasons why I can’t. Life just gets in the way sometimes, doesn’t it?
“Lord, I have so many other things to do today. I’ll do that next week.” And week after week, has turned into month after month…
“Lord, I really don’t have much to offer you.”
“I’m not good enough.”
Sure, I’ve tried to write. I have about five half-finished writings. I keep saying I need to finish them. But there they sit, abandoned in my documents folder. Actions sure speak louder than words, don’t they?
All my excuses came to a halt this morning when I read this in Matthew 14:
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, 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 themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
This scripture leaped off the page and sucker-punched me in the gut; in a good, convicting sort of way, of course. Sitting cross-legged in Sunday school class, I remember being amazed at what Jesus had done. All these years, that’s what I had continued to see. But this time I saw it in a whole new light and realized there’s much more to this story. I focused on those meager portions; those tiny hands that held the few pieces of fish and bread. And I thought about the disciples’ predicament and how Jesus said to the disciples, “You feed them,” fully knowing that they couldn’t…in their own strength.
It would be like realizing you forgot your credit card. The cashier rings your total to $5000, and you look into your billfold to find only a few crumpled dollars and some change.
What you held in your hands would be totally insufficient.
But it was all you had to offer.
Jesus could’ve laughed at the pitiful amount of food and made 5000 plus portions appear in a heartbeat. But that’s not the way our Jesus works.
Jesus doesn’t leave the disciples, or us, hanging out on a limb to dry. He doesn’t expect us to be able to carry out His work in our own power. Full of grace, He says, “Bring them to me.” He asks us, like the disciples, to give Him our meager portions. He chooses to invite us…weak, little us…into His magnificent story. He wants to take our insufficient efforts, whatever we can offer in our tiny human hands, and multiply them through His mighty power. He actually welcomes our weaknesses. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, it says:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Throughout this grief journey, I’ve had every layer of human strength stripped from me; where many times I have found myself lying helplessly, sometimes even paralyzed, before Him. Many people have told me that I am strong. But that is the furthest from the truth.
I am not strong….but my God is.
Any hint of strength that you have seen in my life is only because of Him. People have told me things like, “I could never be as strong as you are if I were in your situation.” But the same power that is available to me is readily available to anyone, so that’s simply not true.
Today God knew I needed a little (or big) kick in the pants; a reminder that He wants me to surrender my insufficient human efforts unto Him. So here I write, and I pray that this sacrifice from my hands is used by God to provide for a need.
Maybe it’s that someone needs to hear that He wants you exactly as you are. You don’t have to have your act together. He wants you to surrender yourself before Him…your broken bits, your failures, your life...and let Him work.
Or maybe it’s that He wants someone to know that you can trust Him with your weakness; that you can step out of your comfort zone and know He is there every step of the way.
Or maybe, like me, you just needed a little kick in the pants today; a reminder to stop making excuses and let Him use you, in whatever capacity He chooses.