I'm trying to get my head around some of the ways that Jesus thinks. Have you noticed that when Jesus and His disciples face a challenge, the solution to that challenge is often a surprising one? Picture the scene with me... Imagine you've had one of those ever so busy days where you just haven't stopped. There's been many demands on you, where you have gone from one thing to another, it's been really full on. So when that moment comes where it all begins to calm down, if you're an Englishman it's time to have a cup of tea and unwind. Hold on to this thought for a moment - that you need to relax... So in Mark 6:33 Jesus and the disciples have had one of those days and He says them, "Let's go find somewhere quiet to chill." I expect the disciples are excited about the thought of some down time, to rest those weary legs. Maybe Jesus will have some encouragements for them all, as His words are always so energising. Off they go in the boat, away from the crowd to a remote place. Imagine you're one of these disciples, your mind now beginning to dial down, ready for rest and you start thinking of your own needs. In no time your destination approaches, but as the shore nears you can make out some unusual movement for such a remote place. People are tracking the course of the boat and they are waiting for you. You know Jesus won't send them away, He loves so much; and if these people are important to Him, they are worth serving. As the boat makes the shore you see just how significant this moment is, as thousands gather from all over the countryside. It's already late and Jesus starts His teaching session. As time progresses and the sun begins to edge closer to the horizon the disciples think of a way to move things along a little. Whether they are thinking that the food issue will help call time on the meeting or more likely they are concerned with the needs of so many, they approach Jesus. His response? "You give them something to eat!" Jesus' solution to the challenge is a surprising one. How would you and I respond? In addition to the tiredness and expectations of rest, suddenly He is asking something of us that requires immediate action and resembles the impossible. I think I'd be working through the logistics in my head and then needing someone to help me with the sums. But that's not what Jesus is really asking is it? I expect we'd be saying with the other disciples "Lord I'm ready to learn how to navigate through this situation with your Kingdom thinking rather than my own solutions." What is Jesus getting at? Maybe He is saying, "Try not to focus on what you haven't got. What have you got? Use that. Then see what have you got next? Use that." Before long you have met a need you didn't believe was possible and 5,000 are fed with 5 loaves and a couple of fish. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) we can't actually prepare for a miracle. There's no beforehand prep that we can plan in. We can't even predict when these unexpected moments will happen. There's not even a formula that we could say would work in a hypothetical situation. However, what we can do is to take on a mindset that approaches the impossible looking at what He has provided us with rather than what he hasn't. Whether our minds are in a different space, He will provide us with opportunities to do something incredible when we least expect it. It might be that as humans we prefer the comfort of a planned situation or 5 steps to follow, but there's no faith in that. The opposite is where we rely on God to do everything for us; but His ways involve us, which means at times we'll be confronted by the impossible and He has provided us with a small starting point to His abundance. In Mark 8:19 Jesus demonstrates how vast His provision is for us. After they have used what they have, it multiplies exponentially.
How many basketfuls did they pick up afterwards? Twelve. The significance of this? It's one basketful for each of his disciples, showing how much He was providing for each of them and how much He will provide for you and me too.
Paul Martin is a youth worker and author. He has written two 40 day devotional books for young people on two key Psalms. His style is interesting an humourous, whilst getting to the core teaching of the Bible text. In addition to the devotions, the books also contain pages called "prayer spaces" on which to reflect with God and journal thoughts that come to mind. Click on the picture below for some samples from the books.
Picture by Drew Coffman - Unsplash