The story in Matthew 14:13-21 is very familiar to us. We know it like the back of our hand. There was a big crowd, Jesus had compassion, many are healed. And then it gets late and people do not have any food, except Andrew found a small boy with a lunch of barley bread and scrawny fish. It was laughable to even think that sack lunch would feed anyone, but the small boy and he might still be hungry after eating what he had. Jesus invited the disciples to feed the crowd. He already knew what He would do but this was a test of the disciples. The disciples wracked their brains all day trying to figure out how they could feed all the people. And they never came up with an answer because they were trying to operate in their own power. Jesus had them right where He wanted them, and the best solution they could come up with was...send them away. What little money the disciples had would hardly make a dent in the food needs of the crowd.
Andrew was the only one who even tried saying well, I have a boy's lunch here. The disciples were tired too, and frustrated, and they couldn't see the power standing right in front of them. What the disciples really said to Jesus was, we haven't got any ideas and we have no idea how to even come up with any. But if this was just about Jesus feeding the crowd, He could have said food and there would have been plenty to go around. Jesus invited Andrew to bring the boys lunch to Him. This was about way more than food. This is all about doing something with what we have. What Jesus really says is bring what you have to me. This is His invitation to us.
So many of us look at what we think we have to offer, and we see little to nothing. We can't do anything because we don't have much to offer. We can't give because we don't think we have enough money to make a difference. We can't serve because we think we have no gifts to use. We can't sing in church because we do not have a good voice, but God loves a joyful noise made for Him. The list goes on and on. Jesus says to each of us...bring me what you have and watch what I can do with it. Truth be told none of us has anything good to offer on our own. Pastor Matt and I do not preach in our own power. The musicians do not lead in their own strength. We are simply giving God what we have, using the gifts He has given to us, and letting Him use us.
When we bless the quilts the quilters have made, part of the blessing is the recognition that these quilts are made of ordinary things...fabric, thread, batting. What we have to offer to the Lord is ordinary. But when we give what we have to Him, He can and does make it extraordinary. I can't even begin to count how many times I have heard people say, well all I can do is pray. That makes me want to dance a jig. All you can do?!! When you ”just pray” you are unleashing the greatest power the world knows. Who could ask for anything more?
Jesus does not expect us to save the world. He has already done that. He doesn't expect us to fix all the problems we see. He can handle that as well. But He does expect us to take the gifts and talents He has given us and use them...not for our sake but for His. This is about using what we have to bring God glory. And anyone can do that, from the youngest to the oldest. The grandest choir in the world doesn't sound any sweeter to God than the preschool kids singing this little light of mine. The kids are giving to the Lord what they have. We can do the same thing.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 all about gifts. We all have different gifts, but we are part of the same body of Christ. And everyone's gifts are important. Not every gift given and used is visible, but all are important. Equally important. When Paul writes to the Corinthians about gifts he is writing because the people have become prideful of their gifts and there is a pecking order being formed with the most important gifts at the top and those designated lesser at the bottom. We don't see that so much here. What I hear instead is that people do not feel like they have been given any gifts.
Each of us has much to contribute to our families, work, school, church, and the world we live in. There is no better time to dusts off our gifts and make a difference. This world needs it.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W