Last week I talked about transition. One of the hardest transitions I’ve gone through in my life was from college to career. While I was excited about finally starting a career that I had worked and trained so hard for, I was not excited about the job I was transitioning to. I had accepted a position in Fort Worth, Texas to be a photographer at Southwestern Seminary. I was thankful for a job, but my plan was to move to Los Angeles, Boston, or New York City to climb the ladder of success, to shoot for the stars and achieve the American Dream (read more about that here).
That wasn’t the Lord’s plan though. No matter how hard I tried to get accepted into Graduate School fellowships or apply for internships and jobs that paid less than minimum wage, nothing was working out which left me with one option: Fort Worth, Texas.
I hate to admit it, but I fought God about it for a while. It wasn’t in my plans.
The day before I was supposed to move to Fort Worth, I went on a hike to clear my head. While I had hiked this trail many times before, this was the first time I was actually able to run all the way to the top. The power of adrenaline, I suppose.
At the top, I sat on a rock and prayed. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but I can’t quite explain what happened at that moment. I felt a sense of peace. Tears rolling down my cheeks, I finally said, “Okay, God. I’ll do it. And I’ll do it with a good attitude.” It was at that point that I gave my future to God and let go of the tiny ounce of hope that I could come up with a better option.
It only took me a week of living in Texas to realize not only did I love my job and my apartment, but I met the man of my dreams who happened to live NEXT DOOR to me. I ended up marrying this man and finding some of my best friends at the seminary.
We are going through the book of Matthew in church and last week the passage was Matthew 14:13-21, the story of “Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand.” If you are unfamiliar with the story, you should read it! It’s short but so powerful. In summary, after healing a crowd of sick people, Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish to feed five thousand men (probably a minimum of 10,000 people if you include women and children). They all ate and were satisfied and there were even 12 basketfuls of broken pieces left over.
This story has always fascinated me and every time I study it, the Lord speaks to me in a different way. The sermon was fantastic on Sunday – we pulled out application such as God’s abundant provision to care for His people, our tendencies to worry and solve the problem ourselves, and the fact that God often takes something small and makes it something big. I was also reminded of our tendencies to be preoccupied with the practical and forget about our heavenly resources.
But as I was sitting there reading this story, the Lord spoke to me in another way as well. Read Matthew 14:16-18:
“Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said.” Matthew 14:16-18 (NIV)
The disciples probably had enough bread to feed only themselves. They had little of what everyone else lacked. Yet Jesus told them to give it all to Him. Jesus did not say, “Give me the small number of loaves you have and I will make enough bread to feed all the people here.” He simply said, “Bring them here to me,” requiring the disciples to have faith and relinquish their earthly worries.
Then He took their bread and multiplied it enough times to feed all 10,000+ people. The disciples finally depended on Jesus for their needs, and as always, He abundantly provided.
“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” Matthew 14:20 (NIV)
Doesn’t the Lord do that in our lives? He doesn’t want some us. He wants ALL of us. He could have told the disciples to keep their bread and eat it themselves and He would provide for the rest but He didn’t. He told the disciples to give Him everything they had. To trust Him.
I think it’s pretty neat that God can take something small (like 5 loaves of bread) and make it big (enough to feed a crowd). We get so preoccupied with our earthly needs that we forget that not only can the Lord provide for us, but He can use our needs to then help others as well. But we have to allow Him to do that. We have to give Him everything we have so that He can use us.
When I felt the tug to say “yes” to Fort Worth, I said “yes” on the outside, but my heart said, “No”. I did everything I possibly could to make a way other than Fort Worth. When I finally gave my whole heart to Him, He turned a simple decision of accepting a job into a life changing and spiritually shaping event.
Jesus doesn’t want Christians that are half-in. He wants Christians who are sold out for Him, ready to give Him everything we have at the drop of a hat. Sometimes that means giving our hearts to Him and letting our attitude reflect accordingly.
Are you holding onto a few loaves of bread when you should give it to Him to be multiplied? There are people, including yourself, who need to be fed – it’s resting on you.
After all, Jesus said Himself,
“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)