Tuesday, January 21, 2014
you give them something to eat
You give them something to eat. (Luke 9:13)
It seems to me there are two basic mistakes we tend to make here. The first is thinking that we actually have enough to give to those starving, hungry masses that we have been called to play a part in the feeding of. They are starving for life. They are starving for meaning. And we hear these words of Jesus and think, oh yeah, I got this. Let me at 'em. And, before long, we return, tail firmly between our legs...frustrated, tired, broken, thinking to ourselves: "How could I ever have believed that I actually had what these hungry ones were looking for?" We get devoured. They feed on us, we feed on them, it's one big dysfunctional feeding frenzy. It is not us that they need to feed on, not them that will (or can) satisfy the deepest longings of our soul. Or maybe a much more dangerous and seductive thing happens. Maybe it actually seems to work. Maybe they seem to like this food. Maybe, for a while, things seem to be going well. They are loving what I'm feeding them, and I am loving that they are loving it. But what they are feeding on is not what they were made to feed on, it's merely cotton candy; sweet to the taste, but toxic to the soul. It will never last, it will never sustain, it will never allow them to grow into God. Simply put, it is not eternal. And eventually we, and they, will fully realize it.
The second mistake we seem to make here is to think that we don't have anything to offer. This too, is a lethal line of thinking. Why else would Jesus turn to the disciples and say these words? Maybe because he wanted them to recognize that they do have something to give, however small and insignificant it might appear to us to be. And maybe because he wanted them to know exactly what it was that they did have. You see, anything we do have, we have only because it has been given to us to begin with. When God made us, when he dreamt us into being, he breathed certain things into us, into you, that were breathed into no one else. And He breathed those specific things into us, into you, in order that we might give them to others in a way that uniquely expresses Him. The magic happens when we recognize what we have been uniquely given, and then give it back to Him. Once placed firmly in His hands it becomes way more than it ever could have been on its own. He then, in turn, is able to give it back to us, in abundance, to pass along to our particular 50, whoever they may be.
So, it seems to me that a good portion of ministry involves simply knowing what you've got (what you have been given), giving it back to Jesus, and then knowing who (as well as how and where) to give it to. Only then will the crowds of starving, hungry people that sit on the hillsides of our lives, yearning for meaning and substance and life, be able to eat until they are truly satisfied...in Him.