There is so much that God desires to do through you, but are you willing to offer up to Him your 'five little loaves and two meager pieces of fish' or is it easier to pass on that work to someone else who seems more experienced and capable than you?
"They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." [Mt 14:16].
When I was in my early twenties, I remember attending a church fellowship one night. Our church had rented a large room at a hotel in order to hold this function. As I mingled with my fellow parishioners, I noticed a woman who was a stranger to the church. I’d never seen her before. Making my way over to her, I introduced myself to her and began to talk to her. I learned that she didn’t belong to any church. She wasn’t even a Christian. Since she was staying at the hotel, she decided to walk into the room where we were at in order to find out what sort of event was going on. As soon as the words, "I’m not a Christian" reached my ears, sirens, bells, and whistles went off in my head. A holy obligation was before me. A lost soul who needed to hear about Jesus was in my midst! What to do? I then spied my worn out pastor standing in a corner innocently drinking a cup of coffee. What luck! Standing before me was a woman with a great spiritual need and standing in that corner all by himself was the ‘chosen instrument’ whom God had obviously selected to meet that need. My job, so I thought, was to bring the two parties together. Quickly, I said to the woman, "Come, I want you to meet the pastor of our church."
As we approached the pastor, I distinctly remember introducing the woman to him and quietly slipping away shortly after the introductions were made. I don’t remember how long the woman remained in his company. As far as I was concerned, my job was done. God had been glorified through me by using me in this ‘evangelistic’ endeavor. The woman did not know the Lord, and I had faithfully led her to someone who could teach her about Him. It never dawned on me that maybe - just maybe - God wanted me to share the love of Christ with the woman instead of passing her on to my pastor like a product on an assembly line.
In St. Matthew’s Gospel, we see that Jesus’ disciples had attempted to do this same thing when they saw a need and didn’t believe in their capacity to meet it. Jesus had spent much time teaching a large crowd of about 5,000 people. As evening approached, His 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 themselves some food." [Mt 14:15].
Jesus’ disciples saw a need. Instead of stepping out in faith and believing that somehow, some way, God could meet that need through them, they looked to the villages in the area as the source that would meet the people’s need for food and expected Jesus to dismiss them in that direction. It never entered their minds that God fully intended to use the little that they did have to supply what was needed among the multitudes. Jesus was about to teach them a lesson that they’d never forget.
"They do not need to go away," Jesus said. "You give them something to eat." [Mt 14:16]. Right away, excuses began to spill off the lips of the disciples. "We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. But Jesus took those meager provisions and blessed and multiplied them, didn’t He? In the end, 5,000 people were fed, with twelve basketfuls of broken pieces left over. How true it is that little is much when God is in it!
Like Jesus’ disciples, many of us have a tendency to allow our own feelings of inadequacy to keep us from being used by God in the capacity that He desires. Instead of believing that God can use the little that we do possess in the way of time, money, talent, knowledge, gifts, skills, and resources, we forward the needs before us to someone else who appears to possess so much more of those ‘necessary’ things.
"I only know a few Bible stories." "I only have one talent." "I only have a little time." "I only have a little experience." The list of excuses can go on forever, can’t it? But instead of abandoning the need before you in the hope that someone else with more Biblical knowledge, talent, time, or experience will take over, God is saying to you, "Use it! Use the little that I have given to you, and watch what I will do! God put the need before you, not someone else. He chose you to carry out that work. He chose you to share that message of love. He expects you to step out and use the little that you do possess while trusting Him to bless and multiply it for His glory.
You tell that individual about the love of Christ; don’t refer him or her to the parish priest. You open up your wallet and give to the poor instead of expecting the government to do it for you. You provide transportation to Mass for that individual in need instead of directing him or her to the church van ministry. You start that ministry instead of waiting for someone else with more resources and experience to do it. You comfort that individual instead of escorting him to the Bereavement Committee. To all of us, Jesus is saying, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."
In my own life, I cannot think of anything that has hindered me more in ministry than my tendency to ‘think big.’ And if I don’t have the necessary resources to ‘start big,’ I end up talking myself out of doing it for Christ. The work gets sabotaged in my own mind before it’s even begun. Instead of putting on a simple play for Christ, I want to direct a Broadway musical. Instead of typing a simple article for the Kingdom of God, I want to produce an entire newspaper or write a book. Instead of making a pot of soup for someone, I want to head up a city soup kitchen. But God isn’t calling me to do those ‘big’ things. And since I’m unable to do those ‘big things,’ it’s easier for me to sit back, do nothing, and say, "God will have to choose someone else, because there’s no way that I can undertake such a task." God isn’t calling me to do ‘big things’ for the Kingdom. He’s calling me to offer up to Him the little that I do have and the little that I can do while trusting in Him to bless and multiply it.
Corrie ten Boom is a woman who was sent to a Nazi concentration camp during World War II as a result of her participation in the underground resistance movement in Holland. Before the war broke out, however, when life was peaceful and still in Holland, God began to move upon her heart to work with teenage girls. She attended a meeting of the Christian Union of the Lady Friends of the Young Girl and felt totally out of place among the other dignified women who were wearing beautiful black dresses with high collars and long sleeves. What was I doing here? she thought. When one woman began to make her speech, she forgot about herself and listened, as the woman expressed great warmth and love for girls who needed help and guidance during a time in their lives when there were possibilities for extremes in good or bad.
In Holland, Sunday School classes ended when one was twelve years old, and YWCA groups were designed for girls eighteen or older. In those crucial and formative years between the two age groups there was nothing organized for them in the Christian world.
Corrie felt a finger poking her back while the woman behind her said, "That’s work for you, Corrie ten Boom." "No time, no money, and no experience," Corrie answered. "Talk it over with the Lord," said the woman behind her, which was exactly what Corrie did when she went to bed that evening. As she prayed, the Lord laid it on her heart to carry out this work. But how?
The next day she told her older sister Betsie about the meeting and how the Lord had laid it upon her heart to do something about girls in their early teen years. Stepping out in faith, Corrie and Betsie began to make plans. They had no money and no experience, but they started just the same.
Their beginnings were humble. They simply started a Church Walk Club. They would meet the girls at a certain place, go on long walks with them, and engage in talks about the Lord and whatever else was going on in the girls’ lives. Soon, the walks began to take place twice a week. As the Church Walk Club grew, Corrie realized that she would need more leaders. Within a short time, she had forty leaders! Eventually, they were able to rent a clubhouse that had many rooms in it. Now that the large group had a large place in which to meet, different classes were provided, according to the interests that the girls expressed. There was a class for those who wanted to learn English, gymnastics, sewing, choir, musical instruments, writing, or the making of handcrafts. No matter what class was taught, time was always taken out in the middle of the class or activity itself in order to teach a Bible verse or story to the club members. Many teenage girls, who joined the club just to enjoy the fun activities, came to know the Lord and His love through those clubs as well. They learned to appreciate the Bible as the Living Word of God.
Because of Corrie’s faithfulness to use what little she had in the way of money, time, and experience, eventually, the outreach of her clubs burst beyond the borders of Holland. Eventually, there were 6,000 club members in the Netherlands East Indies, and 800 members in the West Indies, and all because a woman wasn’t afraid to offer up to God her ‘five loaves and two small fish.’
There is so much that God desires to do in and through every single one of us. But are we willing to step out and use our ‘five little loaves of bread and our two meager pieces of fish?’ Has Christ Jesus laid something upon your heart to do but you’ve not been willing to do it because, like Corrie ten Boom, you keep telling yourself, "No time, no money, and no experience." Take the little that you do have, look up to Heaven, and trust the Lord to bless and multiply it and watch what God will do through you! Remember, God is the One who carries out that work in and through us. It’s about His ability, not ours.
In the book of Proverbs, we are instructed as follows: "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." [Pr 16:3]. Offer up to Jesus your five loaves and two pieces of fish and watch the power of Heaven feed the crowds! Little is much when God is in it!
Look before you and see the needs that are all around you. Open your eyes to the works of service that continue to go undone, the sacrifices that continue to go unmade, and the lives that continue to go untouched because we aren’t willing to offer up the little that we do have for the Master’s use.
Those people with their needs do not need to go away, brothers and sisters. Christ is calling us to meet that need, not delegate it to others who appear more capable. Are we willing to step out in faith? Are we willing to trust? Are we willing to obey?
The next time you find yourself passing on a need to someone else because you only see your own inability instead of God’s ability, remember the words of Christ and be willing to act upon them. Don’t send those in need away. They do not need to go away. The Lord is calling on you, and He’s calling on me...
...to give them something to eat.
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