It's a very familiar story. Anyone who ever attended Sunday School is probably quite familiar with it. The story takes place on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Living in Minnesota, I'm very familiar with how well sound carries when you're down by a lake. I always smile at this... Jesus often made use of God's sound system:)He truly needed it because the Bible tells us there were about 5,000 men there that day. This probably does not take into account the women and children who were undoubtedly present. Even if it does, a miracle was just about to take place. Apparently the disciples had making inquiries to find out exactly what the food situation was. Maybe everyone had bought a picnic in which case they would have to do nothing. The people would have adequate provisions and maybe (I'm taking poetic license here) they would even be able to get a free meal out of it themselves. There is no such luck. It appears no one had brought anything except... a boy. I can't help but wonder what Andrew's motives were for bringing the boy to Jesus. Was he being sarcastic? Was this a step of faith for him? I can't help but think that perhaps someone else would have completely discounted the boy. He didn't have much. It was only five loaves (think small, flat bread) and the writer makes it a point to say the fish were small. This was probably the modern day equivalent to one or maybe two sandwiches. That's not much for a growing boy let alone 5,000 men!
There is so much you can get from this story! However, I want to focus on this particular point. A boy brought what he had to Jesus and gave it up to Jesus to use as he so desired. Of course the boy knew it wasn't enough to feed 5,000 men. He didn't dwell on the fact that it was a small and inadequate solution to the problem. He only knew that Jesus had asked for bread... and he had some.
The boy probably had no idea what Jesus was going to do with the bread. Perhaps the Master was hungry and would eat what he gave him. That would mean the boy would have to go without his meal. That was okay. If Jesus needed bread then he was going to give what he had to Jesus. Jesus asked and the boy gave. He didn't make excuses about how inadequate the food was for the need. He didn't say "You can have it if you pay me for it". He freely gave it to Jesus. He gave Jesus everything he had.
I really have to search my heart on this one. What am I doing? Do I give everything I have to God? Maybe you do. I know there are people who do and God does incredible things in their lives and uses them in amazing ways. Ironically, I can tell you all of them have suffered in one way or another for his name's sake. That goes without saying. However, I can't look at what other people are or are not doing. I'm 100% responsible for what I do or don't do. We like to blame other people or things for our actions but in the end the only one God holds accountable for these things is ... me. If you think otherwise, remember that God is righteous and just. He is not going to punish you for something someone else did or did not do to help you. I'm digressing a bit and getting up on a soapbox but I passionately believe it is true and I am tired of the lack of personal responsibility in our society. Back on topic:)
I have to admit I don't freely give everything to God all of the time. I have my moments when I get it right. However, recognizing that something is not perfect is the first clue that you need to begin focusing on it!
When we freely offer up what we have to God, no gift is too poor or insignificant as long as it is a gift from the heart. Jesus honored the gift the boy gave him. This part gets me really excited! That little gift blessed everyone around the boy. Everyone benefited from the gift. It filled them up and best of all, there were left-overs which could be used to feed others. When the boy gave his gift, people stood in awe of what Jesus did with it. They recognized God's hand.
I might not always freely give everything I have to God but I want too. I want to quit deciding what I want to keep for myself as well as what is too "poor" to give to God. I want to bless the world around me with what God has given to me and what I in turn offer back up to him for his use!
May God help us always remember and be willing to give everything we have back to him!
*8/18/11--This blog is now part of a series entitled Walking With God In The Midst of Cancer