My first year of college, I went to school in Florida. It was 1,000 miles away from anything familiar, and while I had no doubt that it was where I was supposed to be, I was so homesick I could hardly get through a day without tearing up about something. I got in the habit of carrying tissues in my Bible because I couldn’t get through a church service without crying.
During the time I was there, I was assigned campus parents, who had volunteered to host their adopted kids every so often for dinner or other events. I will never forget the Sunday I went over to their house for dinner. I’d spent that week just aching for home, and the last thing I wanted to do was to go over to some stranger’s house.
I walked in the door of their home, and I remember the wife apologizing for having such a simple meal. When we sat at the table, I know I started crying, because she’d fixed roast beef with boiled carrots and potatoes. It was a meal I hadn’t had since I left home, a meal we had all the time at home, something I’d been longing for all week.
I was thankful for the long-winded prayer so I could get myself under control. I was bound and determined not to need to carry tissues to mealtime too.
It was a simple thing, fixing roast and vegetables for a lonely college freshman, but I still remember it ten years later because it meant something to me personally that went much deeper than just a meal.
Today’s verses are John 6:5-13.
Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.
This is one of those famous flannel-graph stories. Just about everybody knows the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with loaves and fishes. In the church, it’s become common vernacular. A “loaves and fishes” kind of story.
Many times people like to think about what it was like to be there, to get to see Jesus multiplying such a simple meal in such a radical way. But I like to think about what it was like to be the boy who gave up his lunch.
The boy isn’t really mentioned in any more detail than what we have, but we can assume he was a young child who was there to hear Jesus speak. Maybe he was there with family. Maybe he came by himself. We don’t know. But we do know that when the disciples started asking around to see what food people had, this little boy offered his lunch to share.
It was a small thing, but God used it in a very mighty way. So much like that simple meal made by a simple housewife in Pensacola, FL. Maybe it was just roast and vegetables to her, but to me it was as piece of home.
What small thing are you holding onto today? Why are you afraid to share it? Do you think it’s too small to make a difference?
Everything we have is small. Everything we do is small. It’s God working in our hearts that’s big. It’s God working in the hearts of others that’s big, and He loves to do it using our small offerings to prove how mighty He is.
Don’t you want a piece of that action? Don’t you want to be able to say that it was your loaves and fishes that God used to help someone in a miraculous way? Well, that won’t happen as long as you hold on to them.
Whatever you have, give it. But don’t give it your name. Give it in Christ’s name. Give it because you believe He can do something awesome with it. And He will.