Matthew 14:16-20 | Jesus replied, “they do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the fives 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. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve learned a lot about obedience. It all started with October Hope, our third baby, lost 12 weeks into our pregnancy. I didn’t want to name the child, and God had other plans, so I obeyed. And, we were so blessed by our choice to honor and memorialize October the way that we did.
This morning a pastor at our church urged the congregation to remember that we all have an important role to play; that each one of us is essential in his plans. I found myself hearing the words, and after many months of God placing a deep longing in me to be used by him and take hold of his wild plans for my life, I was shocked to realize I didn’t believe them. Me? An important role to play? A critical part of his plans? Surely not me. I want to believe it. But, if I’m honest, I don’t.
The next question came quickly. If I don’t believe it, then am I still useable?
I don’t have all the answers, I’m clawing for them and he promises he’ll be found in his word when we seek him and his answers, but I don’t have them yet.
My eyes landed on something I had jotted down in my journal, “Obedience vs. Emotion.” And, I was reminded of a wise friend’s words. Obedience isn’t always about emotions. Alone in a hospital recovery room, tearful and hopeless, emotions played a big part in my obedience to put a name to the baby we wouldn’t meet in this life. This time, however, it might not look as passionate.
In Matthew Jesus urges the disciples to feed the crowd, “Give them something to eat.” Their response is filled with unbelief, with skepticism, and with doubt. It’s nice to know the disciples acted shockingly similar to the way we act, isn’t it? They tried to explain to him, “We have here only…”
What is your, “I have here only…”
- I have here only myself to give, and surely I am not enough
- I have here only a small amount of time to give today
- I have here only this much energy, and it’s not enough
- I have here only this much influence, and it’s not enough
- I have here only this much faith, and it’s rather small, like that of a mustard seed
- I have here only this life, how can I accomplish something worthy to bring you?
When we don’t believe that we are enough– but know that we should — what do we do? We obey. How? His answer is:
Bring them here to me.
I don’t need to have perfect faith, or perfect confidence, or a perfect understanding of his plans, or his ability to use me. I need only to bring it all to him. Everything I have to give, regardless of how small that feels to me. Finances, time, words, confessions, prayers, faith, relationships. I think he just might show me, show us, that we are enough if we can simply open up our hands, lay them out with whatever they hold and, bring them here to me.