Mark 6:41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.
This is of course a very famous story. However, there is one detail I have always wondered about. Did the bread and fish multiply as He was breaking them, or as the disciples were distributing them? If it were just as Jesus was breaking them, He would have been doing that a long time! I think it must have happened both times, so the disciples were actively involved in the multiplication. That must have been exciting indeed! This reminds me of the story of Elisha and the widow’s jar of oil. (2 Kings 4:1-7) God’s supply is infinite, but being finite ourselves, we have a lot of trouble grasping that. One of the beautiful things of His kingdom is that we sometimes get to be part of that supply. It’s like the disciples in this story, distributing bread and fish and the supply just not running out. They might have been hesitant at first, but I’d bet they got pretty enthusiastic before they were done! The thing is, we don’t experience that joy until we get started giving out. Just thinking about letting God’s supply flow through us doesn’t make it happen! James was very pointed about this (as he was about a number of things). “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16) It is true that there are countless needs all around us, and we can’t be involved in every one. However, God does want us to be involved in His supply chain, and we need to be open to do whatever He directs. If the disciples had tried distributing the bread and fish on their own, they would have run out in very short order. However, if we are focused on our own resources, we will never hear and obey when God says, “Give.” It is sadly true that some religious hucksters have twisted this spiritual truth to get people to give to them. I’m glad I won’t have to answer for them before God’s throne! We must not let such works of evil keep us from participating in God’s works that He wants to do through us.
As I have written before, I have been very slow to get involved in material provision for others. Thankfully, in recent years that has changed somewhat, and I am grateful. To be honest, I am constantly bombarded with requests for funds. Many of those are noble and good, but I get so many I turn them all off! It has taken a real change of mindset to choose a few to which to contribute. More personally, I have experienced many times the joy of meeting a need of someone close at hand. That’s fun! That’s why I feel like I can understand how the disciples felt when they were distributing the bread and fish. Another side of that is the matter of giving emotionally and spiritually. Always giving and seldom receiving in that area is the recipe for burnout. The only answer for that is to deepen and broaden our connection to our supply, our infinite Lord. He does tell us to take time off, just as Jesus tried to do with His disciples in this story, but even when that doesn’t work out, as it didn’t in this story, God’s grace is sufficient if we will open ourselves up to Him. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Father, thank You for this strong reminder. We were pretty done in when the hotel where we had been planning to take a break called to say they would be closed because of COVID. Thank You for the ministry we were able to do yesterday, and that You are going to get us through the rest of this time in the City Gallery. This continuous rain storm, that looks to to continue for as much as another week, is also draining. It’s interesting to see Nagasaki weather in the national news! Help us indeed take our eyes off of ourselves and our circumstances so that we can let Your supply, Your grace, love, and joy, flow through us unhindered, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!