Lessons to Learn

When the Loaves and Fishes of Your Life Aren’t Enough

This is a picture of loaves and fishes from the story in the Bible called "The Feeding of the Five Thousand."

The little boy didn’t have a truck full of food. He had five barley loaves and two fish that he volunteered to Jesus’ disciples on a mountain near the Sea of Galilee that day. Jesus took his offering and multiplied it to feed five thousand men plus women and children. It’s an account that would be recorded in all four of the Gospels. It also has implications for those of us who have given all we have but it still wasn’t enough to meet the need. See, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He can still take the loaves and fishes of our lives and turn them into miracles.

Feeding the Five Thousand

It’s a story that takes place in Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-16. It always starts with a great crowd of people who followed Jesus as He went over the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, having compassion on the people and wanting to test His disciples, told them not to send the people away without feeding them. He knew very well that His disciples didn’t have enough food. Instead, they would need to rely on a miracle of provision to do what needed to be done. Then God would get the glory.

In the Book of John, it’s a little boy who comes up with the loaves and fishes that Jesus would multiply to feed the crowd. In the Book of Luke, Jesus specifically asks the disciples to seat the people in groups of 50. And in all four Gospels, the story ends with everyone filled and twelve baskets of leftovers collected.

My Own “Loaves and Fishes” Story

The whole idea for this blog came from a prayer I prayed at the end of last week. It was after a conversation I had with one of my senior students about God. It was nearly 4:00 PM on a Friday afternoon, and the halls were all but deserted. He had stayed for tutoring to catch up on some work, and we ended up walking out together. Then the conversation turned to God.

In those few seconds before I took my rolling cart to the elevator, I prayed fervently for wisdom to know just what to say. He had already told me that he had been adopted as an older child. His new parents are Christians, but he confessed that didn’t really know what to believe about God. I told him that God is real. He really speaks to those who have a relationship with Him, and for those who know Him, we can really see His hand on our lives. I told him that if he really wanted to know the truth about God, he would find it. 

The conversation took less than a minute, and as I walked away, I felt a serious mental distress. Were the words I had chosen enough? Was I being selective in wisdom or too brief in fear that I would alienate him or step over some imaginary line that the state had drawn for teachers? It took the next twenty minutes of praying Philippians 4:6 for me to calm down. It was then I realized that whether the words were God’s perfect plan or my perfect mess, they were my best at that moment. In any case, there was no going back. The only thing I could do was to hand them over to Jesus and ask Him to “loaves and fishes” my conversation. “Lord, please take my tiny offering and multiply it in this boy’s heart for his good and Your glory.”

Jesus Can Still Turn “Not Enough” Into Too Much

That was Friday. Saturday, I had two conversations with two different sisters in Christ but heard the same words both times, “I just don’t know if I’m doing enough for God.” These are mature, born-again Christian women who love the Lord and put Him first in everything. They are walking out their callings the best they know how, but sometimes even when holding nothing back, it just doesn’t feel like “enough.” I know how they feel, and maybe you do too.

But that’s exactly when we need to pray for God to multiply our meager offering. Whether it is in a given situation or just the basic operations of our lives, we give everything we have, and — like the boy with the little lunch — put it into the hands of the Master. God can give the increase, and we can be a tiny part of the greatest story of all time.

(This is the second week in a row that I have felt led to write about “not enough.” Check out last week’s blog “When You Aren’t Enough, Jehovah Jireh Is.”)

Enjoy learning lessons? Try Disappointment on the Christian Walk. Or, try Sometimes We Need Wise Counsel. It’s about a time I got in over my head. Please sign up to receive my blog in your email in-box. You can find that at the upper right of your screen (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.

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