Loaves

Mark 6:35-38.  By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

Focus on what you have, not what you don’t.

When I was in junior high school, there was a special day in 8th grade that was called “Cooperative Learning Day.” We were put in teams that had to navigate together through various physical and mental challenges all around the school campus. One of the activities was the challenge of creating a structure that would support the most weight—but the only items we could use was a stack of index cards, a package of straws, and a roll of paper tape. And we had all of twenty minutes to complete the task. But as impossible as it seemed, at the end of those twenty minutes, every team had built a structure. I don’t remember if my team won or not, but what I do remember is that every team’s structure passed at least the first round.

“What do you have?” It’s not a question we’re used to asking, probably because our brains are wired to see the lack before the bounty. In an uncertain time, when plans were up in the air and the disciples were stressed out, Jesus asks his disciples how many loaves they have, referring to the seemingly dire food situation they’re in after an exhausting day. They had already come to him, asking Jesus to wrap up his talk and dismiss everybody for a Dutch treat dinner break. Jesus knows their reasoning; there’s not enough food. So he challenges them to look further. Thus begins the miracle of the feeding of the 5000—one of the few stories that is found in each of the four gospels.

“What do you have?” It’s easier to look at what you don’t have, what you cannot do.  In this time in which we find ourselves, we first take notice of the many things we are missing, the things we do not have, and we, like the disciples, can find it easy to give up. But perhaps there is something more in our midst. Perhaps there are loaves to be found—small and seemingly not enough to do what we want, but enough when the power of Jesus is in the picture to multiply it.

“What do you have?” It’s something. Use it. Maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s a passion that’s fallen by the wayside. Maybe it’s a vehicle or something you own that could be used to help a neighbor. Maybe it’s a phone or What do you have? Facing a seemingly impossible circumstance, maybe what you have, though small, is more than enough to make a difference.

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