Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. – John 6:1-15
In the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 we see how He can take not enough and make it more than enough. At first, all the disciples could see was a huge problem, but Jesus saw an opportunity. He used the little offering of a young boy to make a huge difference.
So many times we feel inadequate, thinking we do not have anything to offer Jesus. In reality, all He asks for are willing followers who are ready to give all they have. All throughout Scripture we see God’s unfolding plan to change the world through ordinary people. He used a shepherd boy to become the King of Israel, He used a teenager to birth His own son, and He used a fisherman to start the early Church.
In 2010, God used a small youth group from Wichita, Kansas to make a huge difference in the lives of people across the globe. This group of 13-18 year old students had heard about the orphan crisis and were determined to do something about it. The youth group only had about 10 students, but they believed God was calling them to build a water well in Swaziland at a cost of $6,000. In man’s eyes this seemed like an impossible task, but again, Jesus saw an opportunity to use ordinary people to change someone’s world. The students began to use their gifts and talents to raise money. They held benefit concerts, mowed lawns, and worked extra hours at their jobs. The students would also fast a meal each week and give the money to the project. One of the students said, “God didn’t tell us to take care of those hurting and in need only if we have the money. He commands us to love, and I believe one of the ways we can show love is to give—even if it is just 1 or 2 dollars. What I might consider to be little can do great things in this orphan crisis.” God took these students’ offering and multiplied it in miraculous ways. The group accomplished their goal and raised $6,250!
Research: Where Do I Belong?
As we get closer to the end of this week, we encourage you to pray and think about what you specifically could do to be a good volunteer or donor at the place you’ve chosen, and pray over the time or money you are going to spend at that place. Consider writing down ideas for how you’d like to help the organization(s) you’ve been researching, while bearing in mind that your organization of choice might just need help moving boxes or doing some other form of manual labor. All kinds of service can be valuable, and is a crucial part of spending ourselves.
Activity: Walk It Out
Today’s activity is about turning your life over to God, asking Him to move in you and through you, and letting go of the things that hold you back from being used by Him. Take an hour or so today and go walking by yourself, whether that’s a hike, a walk to the store, or just a stroll around your neighborhood (just make sure you walk somewhere safe without too many distractions!). Maybe listen to some instrumental or worship music, or maybe just focus on the thoughts in your head. Whatever you decide to do, draw your attention to the things you are carrying that are too heavy. One by one, imagine dropping them off your shoulders, letting them fall, and then drink in the peace and lightness that comes after. That is the yoke of Jesus. Only by letting go of what we think we need and what we believe we want can we truly step into trust and be a part of His larger plan.