Living in a society that measures success by what you achieve or possess, our heads get big and our hands clinch tight around the stuff we have earned. "I have worked hard all my life," we say. "I have walked with the Lord. I have tithed of my income. I serve in the church nursery. I deserve the blessings God has given me."
Really? NOTHING I have is by my own power. I feel like the kid that gets tons of presents for Christmas. He tears through the packages and joyfully grasps his new-found treasures with glee. He plays with them nonstop and brings them everywhere he goes. "IT IS MINE!" he screams when a friend wants to experience the happiness found in his toy. The only reason the child has that toy was because someone gave it to him. He holds on to it tightly claiming control over how it is played with so nothing bad happens to it. "You can see it for five minutes and then I want it back," he finally gives in.
I feel like I have been busy saying thank you and then telling God what gifts he has given me that I want to share. "You can play with these toys, but not this one. I need this gift to meet MY needs." Or "Maybe someone else will give you a toy like this some day but this one is mine." All that I have has been given to me to share.
I think about my life, my future, my family. I think about our immediate needs both physical and emotional. I think about how I am equipped to meet those needs in this place where God has planted us. What I haven't been busy thinking about is others. At least not without the convenience of compartments.
My life is rich. I have deep friendships and accountability in my faith. I go to a solid Bible-teaching church. My kids are healthy. I have kids. We have money invested for our future. We do what we can with what we have. I make meals for new Moms. We give back to the Lord of our first fruits. We serve in the church. None of this is bad. In fact, it is all good. But I have come to realize that nothing I have is really mine except that God wanted me to have it for his purpose. I suddenly want to give it all up for him to use how he sees fit. Not just WHAT I feel like giving WHEN I feel like it. Does that make sense? I want to completely give self. I want to be 100% available 100% of the time.
This new perspective has opened my eyes to the most basic Bible stories. For example in Matthew 14, God fed 5,000 people with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. I always came to this story and thought of it as an opportunity to show that Jesus was in fact God. I also understood that it is an example of how God can make something from nothing. Let me go ahead and post the scripture here as it is found in the New Living Translation at www.biblegateway.com.
Matthew 14:13-21 (NLT)13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 That evening 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 food for themselves.”
16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
17 “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.
18 “Bring them here,” he said. 19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. 20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
In John chapter 5, it says that a young boy had the loaves and fish with him. Reading this now, I see it differently. The disciples looked at all the people, thousands of them, and didn't see how they could possibly meet their needs and yet God asked them to feed the people. Why would he do that unless He knew he had equipped them to do the job? He knew they had the resources to meet the crowd's needs. And the boy...he could have just as easily eaten his dinner after a day of listening to the Lord speak and been content that he had blessed him with a meal that day. But he didn't. He saw that he had something that could be used. It doesn't say that he just gave part of the food he had. We assume he gave it all. In his human mind he probably didn't think his tiny little meal would even do much, but he gave anyway. It was a gift that he had a meal at all. Why not give back to the one who gave it to him in the first place? And you know what God did? He used that tiny little meal for one given back to him to meet the needs of everyone sitting there. The blessings were so overflowing that they had baskets and baskets of gifts left over. Exceedingly, abundantly more than they could have ever imagined.
I think sometimes we get so consumed with serving God by our own strength once all our needs are met that we forget that everything we have was given to us by him. Even if what we have isn't much. Even when we think there is no possible way it could meet the needs of 5,000. We should give anyway. I don't want to be guilty of selfishly hoarding all that which was given to us by His grace in the first place.
Alright. I think that was a decent start.
More to come...