From Plenty to Plenty
I sat on our living room floor, reading a book to my youngest before her nap time. Nate- our ten-year-old sat near me reading as well. We’ve done quite a bit of reading lately in this current Covid environment. In a sudden unexpected outburst, Nate exclaimed, “man, that was a really big lunch for one kid!” I was completely clueless to his context and asked him to explain. “Five loaves and two fishes?! Mama, that would be waaaay too much for me to eat by myself for a lunch!” The dawning came over me and I sat in silence for a moment as I let that simple truth sink in. The story of Jesus feeding five thousand people with the 5 loaves and 2 fishes has crossed my ears countless times and yet never once had I thought about this perspective. The boy’s lunch is always talked about in reverence because so little was turned into so much. Jesus took this small lunch and multiplied to feed the multitudes. Leave it to a little boy to see things from a different pair of eyes. What a big lunch for one boy… it left me thinking.
If I thought about this small lunch (for five thousand) actually being a BIG lunch for one, what were the implications of this perspective shift?
What we have always seen as lack turned to plenty was actually plenty turned to plenty.
From this boy’s viewpoint, he lacked no shortage of lunch. It was meant for him. His mama likely packed it up that morning, thinking nothing of her normal routine to provide him food for his midday meal. She did not wrap his barley loaves thinking, “Oh I hope this will be enough for Jesus to feed all those thousands of people on the hill.” If she did, she most definitely would have frantically run around the house attempting to gather what she had to give to the Good Teacher to use. But instead, she laid in his basket only what he (and perhaps a brother) needed to sustain them. It was always enough. It was enough for it’s earthly purpose and enough for its kingdom purpose.
Sometimes as a leader, as a follower of Jesus, I see the crowds. I see how many hurt, how many are in pain and hungry. Like the disciples who questioned Jesus as to how they would find food for all of them, I question if there is enough to go around. But Jesus pointed to the boy who already had enough. He was not lacking.
The boy had no lack of food. For himself. But if he was to share it with all of them? Would he still have enough? Enough for him to eat a big lunch like he’d planned? Matthew says that there were basketfuls leftover after everyone ate. We can only assume this little rascal got more than his fill of barley loaves and fish. Even when he gave his entire lunch, he lacked nothing. It was always enough.
Right now we are in the middle of something this current world has never seen. We face a global crisis and the fear of lack is prevalent. What once was seen as a huge lunch to us, now looks meager to last for the days ahead. What once seemed plenty now feels empty. Fear of the unknown does that to us. I looked in my garage the other day to find 3 rolls of toilet paper left. With six people and no foreseeable replenishing, it seemed as though it might not be enough. It was a small basket. And yet, was it? Was it enough for that day? Yes. It was. It doesn’t always feel like enough when we look far in advance, but what Jesus offers is enough for each day. And here’s the kicker. There were thousands of people on that hillside that did NOT have enough to eat that day. Were they in lack? No. Before the day began, he had prepared a meal for them. He stood in the kitchen with that little boy’s mama and helped her make that lunch for all those people. To her, it looked like five loaves and two fishes. That is what she had, what her boy needed. Then that boy, trusting that he would have plenty and not lack, gave what he had, which provided an abundance for those without.
I write this in the comfort of a beautiful home. My pantry has plenty of food and my mom found a stock of 20-year-old toilet paper shed forgotten she’d tucked away from Y2K. (yes, you heard me right) I not only have plenty for today, but for many days I’m sure. Some of you might have plenty for a month, for a week or perhaps just for your next meal. Some of you might be the hungry ones on the hillside. And yet we all have plenty. But their plenty just might be in your pantry. Two times the Lord has put it on my heart that some of the food in “our” pantry was not ours. It belonged to someone else. We were simply storing for them because we had space! One of the items I struggled to give because I knew we would run out the next day, but I threw it in before I argued with the Lord too much. Two days later, that same item showed up at our home. Does it always happen like this? Nope. Not everything is returned to us in the way it was given. But we will always be full. Full of His grace, His peace, His hope, His joy. His pantry is always stocked.
So, the question the Lord has been asking me to wrestle with over these last few days is: What do you have that is enough for you during this time? (Not for thousands) but for you? Could we offer even that to Jesus and tell Him He may have anything he chooses in our basket? Can we trust Him to fill us if He uses everything we have? These have personally been challenging to answer. It might not be food. It could be joy or hope. Maybe it’s your time, finances, your gifts or talents or your willingness to pray. Ask Him what you have that is enough for you and offer it to Him. Ask Him if there is anything you have that is not yours. Ask Him if you have been holding onto something that is meant for someone else. If He shows you anything- give it. Don’t give it just to feel good. Don’t give it because it feels holy. But ask Him. Give the things He tells you to give and feel free to “loosely” hold onto the other things. (For now). Enjoy them! It’s beautiful to have a full basket, there is no shame in it. We just have to know that those of us with full baskets have to be willing to share it all if he asks as it was perhaps never meant for us in the first place. Wow. What a big lunch for a little boy.