The apostles returned to Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. Many people were coming and going, so there was no time to eat. He said to the apostles, “Come by yourselves to a secluded place and rest for a while.” They departed in a boat by themselves for a deserted place. Many people saw them leaving and recognized them, so they ran ahead from all the cities and arrived before them. When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things. Late in the day, his disciples came to him and said, “This is an isolated place, and it’s already late in the day. Send them away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something to eat for themselves.” He replied, “You give them something to eat. But they said to him, “Should we go off and buy bread worth almost eight months’ pay and give it to them to eat?” He said to them, “How much bread do you have? Take a look.” After checking, they said, “Five loaves of bread and two fish.” He directed the disciples to seat all the people in groups as though they were having a banquet on the green grass. They sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. He took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them, broke the loaves into pieces, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Everyone ate until they were full. They filled twelve baskets with the leftover pieces of bread and fish. About five thousand had eaten. (Mark 6:30-44, Common English Bible).
I know, I wrote for just over a week and then immediately missed a week. Hence the title, “Life Happened.” Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I was at Lakeview Methodist Conference Center, our camp near Palestine Texas for a clergy conference. I wrote a post on Tuesday night but when I came back to my room on Wednesday evening, I wasn’t feeling well, went to bed early (it was before 9:00 and for me that is REALLY early), fell asleep and slept until the next morning. Thursday was filled with the last day of the conference and then driving back to Sweeny and Patriot Choir/Coastalaires rehearsal. I could go on for the days since, but lets just say life happened.
The story above is one of our favorites. I don’t know of any Christian who doesn’t like at least one of the Gospel versions of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. I am a fan of it too. In light of “life happening” the past week, I started thinking about this story in that light. It is something I have not considered before.
Jesus and the disciples had a long few days teaching and tending to people. It went on to the point they didn’t have time to eat. One could argue that life happened right at that point, but for me that life happening event was still to come. Jesus tells the disciples, “Let’s get away for awhile.” They got in a boat and made their way to an isolated place to rest. The crowds, however, followed along on foot. They wanted more of Jesus. In other words, life happened.
But, life continued to happen. Jesus tended and taught once again until it was late in the day. People needed to eat. Jesus tells the disciples to give them something to eat. Yet all the disciples had was five loaves of bread and two fish (a young boy’s lunch according to John. That lunch I heard my friend Matt Neely called a cold catfish sandwich in a wonderful sermon one time). Boy, was life happening. Five thousand people to feed on a small lunch. That is a tough circumstance for the disciples to wade through. It would be a tough circumstance for any of us to wade through.
It might be tough for the disciples or us, but not for Jesus. Jesus tells them to bring him the food, to divide them into groups and serve them banquet style. When they were finished eating, everyone was full and there were twelve baskets of food leftover. It has always amazed me that Jesus not only met the need and exceeded it, he did it extravagantly. Jesus had more food left than the food with which he started.
As I was thinking about my days over the past week and the lessons this story provides, it seems to me, we are called to do the best we can with what we have. With God’s blessings, often that is enough. But sometimes, what we can do just isn’t enough. We, like the disciples, need Jesus’ help.
We can never do everything with our own power, even when life happens. We need God. At the same time, just because we need God doesn’t mean we can stand on the sidelines waiting for God to work. Remember, Jesus didn’t act until after the disciples did. We are the same. Sometimes, God expects us to do what we can, to give things our best shot and when life happens, we let God do the rest.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Grace and Peace,
Copyright 2016, James “Keith” Broyles, All Rights Reserved.