Is there more to the story?

How many times I’ve read Luke’s version of the feeding of the five-thousand (Luke 9:10-17). It is a great story, isn’t it? Imagine feeding five-thousand men–more when we consider the women and children who were likely present, too–with only five loaves and two fish! It’s a BIG miracle, for sure!

And that’s what catches our attention, isn’t it? The magnitude of that miracle. We are prone to look for the big stuff, the flashy show of power, the grandiosity of the moment. This story doesn’t disappoint, either–an incredible feat to feed thousands of people with what would barely feed a family.

But there is more, much more, waiting to be discovered in this story…

Consider this: How did Jesus make himself heard? He spoke to them about the kingdom of God. In other words, he preached…to over 5000 people, more than likely outdoors. How could all those people hear him without a sound system? Did he walk among them as he spoke? Or did he stand still and those closest to him turned to the ones behind them, repeating Jesus’ words to create a sort of echo?

And then there’s the healing… Did Jesus individually heal those in need, one by one? That alone would have taken more than a day! Or did he simply speak a word and all were healed at once? Certainly that would be more efficient, but isn’t the personal attention from Jesus a significant aspect of healing? Did the disciples, having just returned from their own ministry adventure, jump in and help with the healing to expedite the process?

How in the world did the Twelve feed all those people? If we simply consider the 5000 that Luke mentions, sitting in groups of fifty would have meant that there were 100 groups. That’s approximately eight and one-third groups per disciple, or 416 individuals for each disciple to serve. I occasionally help serve a meal to the homeless at a local non-profit. It takes about thirty minutes for eight of us to serve 100 people seated around tables. I can’t imagine serving 416 by myself!

In all, this would have taken hours and hours…teaching, healing, feeding, collecting leftovers. So, did time simply stand still for a while?

Can you see the potential for all sorts of miracles in these seven verses? When we slow down and engage our imagination, we can glimpse all sorts of wonders in these familiar stories, little treasures that we have previously overlooked. And doing so trains us to look for life’s little treasures available to us each day, the ones we might otherwise overlook in our quest for the big stuff.

 

What kind of miracle do you need today?

     Are you hungry for spiritual food?

          Do you long to hear Jesus over the noise in and around you?

               Are you in need of healing? Or is Jesus inviting you to be an agent of his healing?

                    Are you feeling overwhelmed by the needs or tasks before you today?

                         Do you need time to stand still for a bit, that you might have a personal encounter with Jesus today?

Ask…seek…knock…your Savior longs to answer. Just remember that the answer may not come in the big stuff, but in the small treasures awaiting you today.

Spiritual Jealousy

This morning I was reading the story of someone’s experience of a God-encounter. In jealousyrecounting her experience, it was clear that she had sensed God’s presence and His voice. As I read her story, I began to think about how I could make it my own. Kind of like spiritual plagiarism. It was not a deliberate thought process, but one that I slipped into without even realizing it. I became so engrossed in my own conjuring up of a God-encounter like hers, that I nearly missed her actual point in telling the story!

I firmly believe that there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to human behavior, so I’m guessing I’m not the only one who struggles with spiritual jealousy. It’s not like I don’t have my own God-encounters. I’ve experienced deep and meaningful encounters with my Father, as well as sweet and serendipitous flashes of His grace and mercy. Why do I think I need to have what He has chosen to share with someone else?

This realization initially tempted me towards self-condemnation. But as I confessed my spiritual jealousy and expressed my true desire to repent, I received the most amazing grace from Father-God! He showed me that this spiritual jealousy is rooted in a deep longing to know more of Him, to experience Him more acutely in every moment of my life. And Father went on to assure me that He himself planted that longing within my heart, so it is not a bad thing in and of itself. I’ve just been reaching and grasping for it, which is completely unnecessary. He has been giving it all along. The picture that came to my mind was of a baby grasping for a bottle that the mother was already guiding towards its hungry little mouth.

My spiritual jealousy is simply the shadow side of my spiritual hunger. And that spiritual hunger reminds me that I need to be attentive to how God moves and speaks and works in the moments of my life, so as not to create space for spiritual jealousy to rise up.

Spiritual attentiveness was, incidentally, the point of the story I read. I didn’t miss it after all! Rather, I actually experienced the meaning of her story in my very own God-encounter. Imagine that!