2019. A new year, a fresh start. With a fresh start comes new opportunities – some that you will plan for and others that will surprise you. As we move into a season of planning for those new opportunities, maybe it’s a new job, a move, or planning for summer trips, have you stopped to think about the new opportunities we have in Jesus? How he’s going to use you and work through you this year? Maybe you are making plans to go on a mission trip or to become a prayer partner. Maybe you are excited about starting a new ministry or teaching Sunday School. And maybe, just maybe, you feel a little underqualified. I know that I’ve struggled with and have heard many others express their concerns about feeling inadequate. We have these lofty spiritual desires but we don’t feel qualified for the kingdom work. God places desires and dreams in our hearts and waits for us to be discerning and obedient in them. I think that the key is in the willingness to serve and be used by God. The Bible is filled with people who on paper didn’t look qualified at all but through God accomplished things that no one else could have imagined.
In the story in John chapter 6, Jesus feeds the 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. We all know the story as one of the amazing miracles that Jesus performed in the Bible, but a lesser known part of it that is only recorded in the gospel of John details how Jesus got the five loaves and two fish that He multiplied. Verse 9 says, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” There are two parts to that verse, first part of that part- there is a boy! And the second part is a question that seems to be filled with disbelief. John’s account of this miracle is my favorite because he includes the boy in his retelling. The boy showed up, he was willing, and he offered what little he had. I’m sure the boy looked at his small dinner and knew it was inadequate. But Jesus did the work of multiplying it and making it fruitful. The boy was willing and gave all he could in an effort to be part of the kingdom work. He did not try to multiply the fish on his own, he did his part and then allowed Jesus to step in and do what no one else could.
We are never going to be enough on our own, but that is why we have to step back and allow God to take the lead. After Jesus fed the 5,000 people “…he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’ (John 6:12-14).” The willingness of this boy to give up all he had and to trust that Jesus would multiply it was all it took. His obedience to discern the call and faith to follow through led to a miracle that allowed thousands of people to recognize Jesus as Lord. We are only called to do so much at one time, and then we have to trust and let God work in our lives. How different would our walks with the Lord be if we did everything in that manner? Obey, trust, repeat. Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will act.” As you look ahead to this new year, think about how you can do your part but also give the Lord space to act. We cannot perform miracles, but He can do miraculous things through us. So let’s show up with our meager loaves and fish and watch what He can do through our willingness.
Written by Christina Painter
Christina Painter is a wife, mom of two, and an elementary school librarian. She has a heart for women’s ministry and loves to encourage others through writing. You can read more from Christina on her personal blog, The Byway.