Can you imagine what it would have been like to be one of Jesus' disciples when he fed the 5,000? There were far more leftovers when all was finished than what they had begun with. Where have I experienced this lavish abundance in my life?
I could probably answer this in volumes. My tickled imagination puts me among the crowd as one of the silent disciples. I can visualize Jesus blessing a basket with one fish in it by holding it up and offering it to the Lord. Then he brings it down and hands it to me. It is full of fish, all cooked and ready to serve.
One of the few childhood memories I have is when my step-dad who took me to a country store that sold my favorite football cards. He and Mom both had been fairly generous with me when it came to those cards because I had a total blast with them and loved the hobby. I could collect and study them and marvel at the treasure of the pictures and statistics (ok, I was kind of a geeky kid too). My friends and I would trade and make up games to play with them. As was usual with me, I could turn anything into a game.
My step-dad and I were in that little store and the display of cards was empty. Seeing my disappointment, the store owner sent me to the back to get another box. What threw me off was how the display box was packaged exactly like the small packs of 10 that you would normally get. I remember being mesmerized because as I carried that box to the front of the store, I was imagining that I had hit the jackpot of a lifetime. I thought it was just one pack of giant football cards. It must have shown on my face because I remember the two men laughing at me and explaining how that’s just the display box that contained the packs of cards. They opened it and got out a couple of packs for me.
I was never disappointed in their explanation because it gave me such a fun moment of imagination. I had a moment where I imagined how jealous the neighbor kids would be because I had these enormous cards that I’d never trade unless they offered me all of their cards and what they’d get from their parents over the next year (or two). It was one of countless Tom Sawyer-type moments in my life that continue today. Even after my childhood passed, my imagination is still happily young.
When it comes to living out my faith, I don’t walk around anymore with that mesmerized look on my face. I don’t always recognize what I have in life that is this radical overload of grace and love. The blessings God has given me in life overflow my basket every day. It’s all prepared and ready for me to simply receive. My job is to accept it. Period.
But I also have a job to do with the abundance. What God has provided is beyond comprehension. When I ponder the big picture things of God I explore God's overwhelming love, deep compassion, and purpose in life and ministry. I serve not because I'm trying to somehow pay God back for the blessings provided. I serve because I am compelled to share what God has freely given. It is a desire, a goal, even a dream.
The imagined scenario of taking the basket of fish Jesus gave me showed me that same expression on my face as I carried the giant box of cards. When I got to my assigned group of people to share it with they asked me why I was so happy and where I got the fish. The only words I could muster were, “It’s a miracle of God. Enjoy!”
I couldn’t wipe the huge smile off my face as everyone in my group had more than enough. They handed me the empty basket back and I ran to take it to Jesus. He was standing there with a huge smile on his face and asked, “Are you ready for more?”
When the box of football cards was open to reveal the smaller packs, I wanted all of them. Of course! Who wouldn’t? But to my amazement, this trip I got two packs instead of the usual one. I still received more than I could have hoped for and was surprised, content, and had a great story to share.
I can’t say that I know everything about what I’m supposed to do with God’s lavish abundance that is still given to me every day. All I know is that I have a deep desire to get that look back on my face and that feeling back into my heart. I want to walk around with a smile and look of wonder on my face simultaneously. I want people to ask me, “Where did you get this?” The answer is already within me. “It’s a miracle of God. Enjoy!”
When is a time God provided for you more than you anticipated?
How would you describe the feeding of 5,000 experience if you had witnessed it?
What is it about your relationship with God that causes you excitement?
In what ways is God inspiring you to share your story?