“You feed them.”

Has Jesus said this to you lately? Maybe not those exact words, but something like, “Here’s what I want you to do…”

My reading in Mark this morning was the loaves and fishes story in chapter 6, and it made me squirm a bit. This week, the Spirit has been probing my thinking, shining a light in some corners that need to be cleaned out and renovated. Yeah, He made this passage pretty personal today.

It had been a long day. Jesus had news of his cousin John’s death at the hands of Herod. A scandalous story. When he tried to take some personal time, the crowds followed him. Wouldn’t let him alone. He saw their need, and his compassion could not turn them away. He spent the entire day teaching them.

Everyone’s stomachs eventually started rumbling. The disciples looked around, and the facts of the situation were daunting. They were miles from a town. Thousands of people were hungry. No food trucks waited in the parking lot.

It’s time to send everyone home.

But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

Put yourself there as one of the disciples. Jesus has just told you to do the impossible. I’d be speechless. What do you say to instructions like that, instructions to do something that is so clearly impossible? My default setting is to look at all the reasons why not.

The disciples weren’t speechless; they voiced their bewilderment.

“How much bread do you have?” asked Jesus. “Go and find out.”

Ah. Get yourself in gear. Take inventory. Make the assessment: What CAN I do? When Jesus presents us with a challenge, aren’t we too often focused on making a long list of reasons why we CAN’T do anything and why this is surely impossible?

Gather what you do have. Then report back to Jesus and follow his next instructions.

And see what he does with what you do have.

Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. (Mark 6:41 NLT)

Born to be Brave

What’s holding you back?

What’s holding you back from the life Jesus died to give you?

Let’s ask another question first: Have you had a glimpse of the life Jesus died to give you?

So many times we are caught in the whirlwind of our days that we lose sight of Jesus’ plans for us: He came to save us from empty lives and give us lives full of heaven’s resources, purposes, power, and joys.

I don’t want to miss all that because I get so distracted by the temporal tempests that can blow away my days like the wind dispels smoke.

I have been thinking about the few small loaves and fishes that a nameless, ordinary boy gave to Jesus. When that boy offered his lunch to share, he could not have imagined the outcome. He only knew that he was willing to let Jesus have his lunch and Jesus could do whatever He would with it.

Most of us probably feel like that child, with so little to offer that we think it will make no difference or have no impact. Our little bit is indeed insignificant. But what Jesus can do with our little bit– that is what will make all the difference!

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anyone speak of God giving them a clear, fully detailed vision of the life He has planned for them. He does show us the next step on the path. He knows where He intends to take us, even though we can’t see it. He knows how He is putting together His masterpiece.

He knows what He intends to do with those loaves and fishes. We can’t see the whole picture. We just need to be willing to take the next step into that life.

What’s holding us back?

* What’s keeping us from following Jesus’ commandment to pray for and do kind things for that person who has hurt us so deeply?

* What keeps us from helping foreigners in our midst as God has told us to do?

* In this season of lilies, what keeps us from trusting God to provide everything we need?

* What keeps us from putting aside things in our lives that take our focus off God?

* What keeps us from declaring our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven while we live in a kingdom hostile to God’s children?

* What keeps us from believing that God can use our little loaves and fishes?

What keeps us from taking the next step toward the big, unlimited life He has for us?

As we take each step, He’ll unfold that life. And like the lunch for thousands of people, what He does will be beyond anything we imagine now.

What holds us back?

In Bob Goff’s book Everybody Always, he wrote, “Jesus never asked anyone to play it safe. We were born to be brave.”

Scripture says our new birth and life came from the Spirit of God—and yes, we were born into this new life to be brave.

At this birth, you inherited the Spirit of the One who gave you this life. And that Spirit is not one of fear or insignificance or helplessness. The Spirit in you is one of power, love, and self-discipline.

Following that Spirit brings life and peace.

What’s keeping you from taking that next brave step?

***

Scriptures: 2 Timothy 1:7; Romans 8:6; John 10:10; Ephesians 2:10

 

Photo Credit: Emily Leonard