Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the great needs of people who suffer from poverty, broken homes, illness, depression, or war and wondered what on earth you could do about it? I'm sure that Mother Teresa must have felt overwhelmed at times as she walked through the streets of Calcutta, encountering physical and spiritual needs at every turn. How did Mother Teresa, a woman of little means, deal with this mountain of human need before her each day? The key for her was her relationship with Jesus.
In Luke 9:11-24 we get an insight into the way the kingdom of God operates and how God transforms what little we have into abundant blessing for others. The story is about Jesus multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food to feed thousands of hungry people. Similar stories of the multiplication of the loaves are also seen in the gospels of Mark and John. Jesus had been teaching thousands of people on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. No doubt the disciples observed that the people were hungry and were in need. What was the disciples' solution? Send the hungry people away so they could get something to eat on their own. This seems to be our natural inclination when faced with the needs of others. Certainly there is someone, some agency, or some outside source that is more capable of handling the problem.
I'm sure it was a surprise to the disciples to hear Jesus say, "you give them something to eat." The disciples responded, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go and buy food for all these people."
Acting as if the five loaves and two fish were enough to feed five thousand plus people, Jesus instructed the disciples to organize the crowd in groups. Can you imagine what that must have been like to be a disciple and try to explain to the hungry crowd why Jesus wants them to sit in groups of fifty? I'm sure the disciples were asked a lot of questions as they proceeded to obey the Lord. Once the crowd was organized Jesus took the bread and fish, looked toward heaven, then blessed and broke the food.
Then came the moment of truth. Put yourself in the disciples place if you want to know what it's like to walk with Christ. Jesus faces the disciples, whose backs are to the crowd, and then he gives them a portion of the blessed bread and fish. Perhaps the disciples looked at the Lord with a glance that suggested, "Ok Lord, I get the principle your trying to convey in this teaching. Can we leave now?" The moment of truth for the disciples was the point when they turned around and faced the crowd, with what appeared to be a meager portion in comparison to the need, and began to feed the first person. Did they feel foolish? Did they feel inadequate?
After they fed the first one or two people, they ran out of food. What do you think they did next? They went back to Jesus who was standing there with more food. The gospel doesn't tell us how he multiplied the food, only that he did. I would imagine that by the second or third group of fifty people, the disciples started running the aisles with excitement realizing that they were walking in the supernatural. In the end we see that there was even food left over after all the people were fed.
What can we learn from this wonderful story? We know that there will always be needs in the world and that the tendency is to send the problems away so that someone else can deal with them. We see in this story that the Lord wants to meet needs, but he uses his followers to do it. We also see that what we can provide seems to be lacking in comparison to the need, leaving us with a sense of inadequacy. The key concerning this story is, that if what you have, as little as it may seem, is in the hands of Jesus it is enough. The key to walking in the supernatural is "through Christ." It is only through Christ that we will change the world. Our part is to take inventory of all the gifts and blessings the Lord has given us, then give them back to him to use. The impact you will make on the world may not be seen overnight, but remember the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, though it is the smallest of seeds, once it grows it will produce a tree large enough to provide shelter for the birds.
When you read the lives of the Saints you will repeatedly encounter people with relatively small talent and means, but they all gave everything they had to Christ and he changed the world through them. This was the key principle in Mother Teresa's life. She went into Calcutta with very little, but she daily was faithful to the Lord and to her calling, and years later the world was so impressed with her that they awarded her the Nobel Peace Prize. Anyone of us could have done what she did, the difference between most of us and Mother Teresa is trust and faithfulness.
Over the years, I have spoken to so many people who wish they could walk with Jesus the way the disciples walked with him. The good news is you can walk with him the way the disciples did. Take inventory of all the gifts God has given you; now make sure that they are in the hands of Jesus. Remember, if what you have is in the hands of Jesus, it is enough.
A Couple of Things to do:
1.Take inventory of the gifts God has given you. Remember that nothing is too small. Are you gifted in math, science, teaching, sports or organizing? Go to the Lord in prayer and make these gifts available to him with the attitude that it's not for a day, a week, or a year, but for a lifetime.
2.Look around you and identify some need that you could address. This may be in your family, church or community. Remember; often times the disciples found themselves in situations that were a bit beyond themselves. That's ok if Jesus is with you.