How many loaves do you have?
It's time to take our eyes off what we haven't got, says Dave Newton.
As we stepped out of our car, which was conveniently parked in the furthest corner of the car park to minimize our embarrassment, we made our way to the entrance of the hotel.
Dressed in formal evening attire, Liz and I carefully weaved through a gauntlet of Landrover’s and Lexus’s to grand entrance of a country hotel. As guests of this event having received complimentary tickets to a charity ball and fundraiser, many would be delighted to attend, however as a young newly married couple with our life saving of £20 in our pockets we were totally out of our depth.
On entering the reception area we were greeted by a photographer who quickly snapped our picture and took our £20 as a donation to the charity. We sat at a table surrounded by CEO’s from major national and international companies feeling somewhat out of our depth, like we had nothing to offer.
I am sure most of us can relate to a moment where we have felt uncomfortable at a meal time, whether that has been food that didn't agree with our palette or even the opposite where we have had to loosen a belt to accommodate what we have eaten. We can easily find ourselves in unfamiliar surroundings or with people who we find it hard to relate to.
In Mark’s Gospel we read about an awkward moment concerning food, or in this case the lack of food. Jesus had been teaching for 3 days and the people listening were so captivated they had run out of food or simply forgotten to eat. As Jesus reaches the end of his teaching he decides there is time for one more object lesson. Mark records that Jesus wants to feed the crowds, totalling over 5,000 men, before they go home
This is where the disciples begin to feel awkward pointing out to Jesus that their location is not really conducive to serving enough food for this multitude. Similar to my experience in the posh hotel, the disciples focussed on what they didn’t have and felt inadequate for the task.
How many loaves do you have? It was a simple question Jesus asked, it was an obvious question and one that had a clear answer. The answer was seven, just seven to feed 5,000 people!
Have you ever stopped and thought why Jesus asked the question? It wasn't that he didn’t know the answer to the question he posed, but rather Jesus wanted to change the posture and focus of his followers away from what they didn’t possess towards what they did possess. Rather than focussing on the lack he wanted them to see the provision and the potential that could be multiplied to meet the needs of those present.
So much of our lives can be like one of those awkward meals where we spend time thinking about what we don't have in our lives rather than what we do have. Not enough time, intellect, resources, people or energy to face the thing that Jesus is inviting us to do.
Perhaps we work in an unfulfilling role or our church is not accelerating at the pace we would like, we don't have the prayer life we desire or rhythm of bible study we might really aspire to. Jesus asks his followers this simple question to remind them that what they have will never be enough, but when put in partnership with Him will be more than sufficient.
Next time you stare at an awkward meal or are faced with a perceived lack in you live remember the question of Jesus. What do you have? Remind yourself that he can do so much more with the little you have than you can imagine.
Enjoy your lunch!
Question: What do you have? Leave a comment below.