July 6, 2007

A very small what if . . .

When our oldest son was about 6-8, he used to ‘what if.’ He came in from stepping on a bug with a story something like this: “What if I had not stepped on that bug. What if it grew and multiplied and there were thousands more like it. What if those kinds of bugs took over the world, and there was no room for people . . . .”

His mighty ‘visions’ seemed to have disappeared with childhood, but the world could use more people who say “what if” and dream big dreams.

Jesus’ disciples were not very good at this, at least not in the beginning. When the multitudes were hungry and they had no food, Jesus asked His followers, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat.”

There were no supermarkets for miles. The disciples were stumped. Philip said they didn’t have enough money even if they could find a store big enough. Andrew, with perhaps a bit more initiative, took stock to see what was on hand. His findings? “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

It took Andrew a while to realize that God doesn’t need much. From nothing, He spoke the world into existence, creatio ex nihilo! When we give Him our lives and our service, which often seem nothing in our sight, He can and does use us to do His will, great things and small.

I know from experience that I can never second-guess God, nor will He do the things I imagine. Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think . . . ” so my imagination is far below the creativity of God. Yet that verse finishes with “ . . . according to the power that works in us.” God can work from nothing, but by His sovereign will, He decides to use the little things we give Him, sometimes seemingly insignificant things.

Last night on the way home from two FIFA World Soccer games, I sat on the transit beside a young woman engrossed in a book. Curious, I glanced at it and saw the title was about being a confident woman. I glanced again, this time at the text. It said, “You must learn to think about yourself according to what God says about you, not what your friends say, nor even what your own inner voices say.”

When she put the book in her bag, I said, “Good book?” She smiled and agreed. Then I said, “My granddaughter rides this transit every day. I hope someday she sits beside exactly the right person.”

She smiled, said yes, and nodded. Then I said, “Maybe that person will be you.”

The bell rang for her stop, but she glowed with the joy that spills out of Christian hearts and smiled and nodded again in harmony with my desire.

It took a little courage and a small boldness to say what I said, and I certainly cannot imagine what it did do or will do in her heart or her actions. However, when I read the miracle again this morning in John 6, I marvel at what Jesus can do. I offer to Him that very small ‘lunch’ and trust He will use it, perhaps in ways that I may never see, to feed someone, maybe many even a multitude.

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