Not too long ago, my five year old son, Aaron, wandered into the bedroom when I was reading my Bible. He asked me to read some of it to him. I stopped what I was doing and together we cuddled up to read Luke 9:10-17, the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. Since we were reading from the actual Bible rather than a children’s story Bible, we read one verse and then stopped to talk about it. When we read verse 14, I explained that though there were 5,000 men present, there were also lots of women and children there too. We talked for a few minutes about just how large the crowd might have been and how hungry they probably were, when Aaron said, “I know what the kids got to eat! Crumbs. I bet they got to eat all of the crumbs.” “Oh, no,” I said, “Let’s keep reading and see what happened.” We continued and read those precious words, “Everyone ate and was filled” (v.17) and they even had leftovers! How many times do I make the same assumptions in my own life? How many times do I look at my circumstances and expect God to give me crumbs when His plan all along was to meet all of my needs even to the point of overflowing? He has more for us! So much more than crumbs!
When we read this account of feeding the five thousand in the book of John, we get more insight into where the original five loaves of bread and two fish came from. In John 6:8-9 we learn that Andrew discovered a boy with food and reported to Jesus what the boy had packed for lunch. Before we can get there, we have to back up to that morning before the boy left the house. The Bible does not say who packed the boy’s lunch, him or his mother (my money is on the mom), but what we do know is that this little boy of all the little boys, men, women, and girls is the ONLY one out of over 5,000 people that packed lunch that day. Or was he? It is highly possible that there were at least a few others who brought lunch with them, hid it from everyone, refused to share and COMPLETELY MISSED seeing Jesus’ miracle of provision. What’s worse is that they missed BEING the miracle of provision. This breaks my heart. How many times have I missed allowing God to use me because I was too busy taking care of my own needs and worrying about feeding my own family, when all along His plan was to use the very resources He has given me to reach the masses for His glory?
One truth God has been showing me lately is that in order to receive anything, He often first asks me to step forward and offer what I have. In some ways this feels counterintuitive. I would never throw out my old sofa, until I have the knew one delivered. I don’t want to be left empty-handed. I don’t want to find myself quite so vulnerable. If I’m really honest, I’d say this is my way of maintaining control of everything around me. Yet He often asks us to make the first move, offer up those few fish, and THEN He will provide the feast. This is so hard for me to do, but this is exactly what I teach my kids to do every day. When they want to be heard and want their way, I often find myself saying, “Right now, the thing you need to do, is make that first step of obedience. Go clean your room, then we’ll talk about additional privileges.” What first step of obedience is God asking you to take today? What one thing could you do to give God a clear indication that you are listening and are ready to hear more? It may be as simple as writing that note to encourage someone or being the first to say “I’m sorry.” Whatever it may be, make the move, read His Word, do the one thing that He’s clearly asked…NOW.
Whether you see yourself as a part of the crowd (hungry, yet suppressing the pain), or the little boy (offering everything you have to Jesus), or even the disciples (the event planners freaking out over lack of provisions and taking on the burden themselves), Jesus’ response is the same to each of them. He feeds them. He takes care of them. He has a plan and in His plan no one is left on the fringes to beg for crumbs. Each person showed up that day to see Jesus, to listen and learn, and find out who this man was. When we show up ready to see God, regardless of our current roles, responsibilities, or place of pain, He will show Himself…in His time. Jesus was not there setting up morning coffee and tea breaks for His all day conference. He had no problem with allowing people to get hungry. He had a plan, but it didn’t look the way anyone else thought it would. He orchestrated His plan in a way that made it apparent that only God could have worked in this way. Only He can meet our deepest needs. Take time, seek Him out, and let Him fill you today.
Heather Carlton After being a missionary in Africa and South Korea, Heather Carlton is now a writer and speaker at women’s events. Her passion is to see women empowered, equipped, and mobilized to serve where they are and to the uttermost parts of the world. Heather lives in Saint Augustine, Florida, with her husband and four children (ages 5,7,9, and 11). They are a beach family that loves surfing, paddle boarding, and life on the marsh.