Yesterday, Aaron and I had the privilege of hearing an amazing missionary as he shared the story of how God had cared for his needs and given him a church where hundreds of Cambodians had been saved and baptized in the last 3 years. It was incredibly inspiring, and we went home talking about a particularly striking illustration he had used in talking about Matthew 14:18-21. Twelve people lined the stage of our church, holding their baskets of “leftovers.”
“Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
What an awesome thought… Jesus taking a few fish and loaves of bread to feed over 5,000 people! Aaron and I love to put ourselves in the middle of Bible stories, dreaming up what we might think or see. We imagined the disciples winding their way through the crowd, each with their broken piece of bread that somehow never ran out. From our living room, we pictured ourselves sitting on a hill, far back in the crowd, waiting for our miracle dinner. We were caught up in amazement, thinking of how it would have felt to see just one story with Jesus. Then, in a moment, we realized that we were still human.
It occurred to my imagination, as I sat in the crowd, that I was one of them. The same crowd, full of people just like us, that chanted “Hosanna!” The same crowd, later that same week, who traded their Messiah’s life for a murderer’s. We are all so quick to change our minds when God doesn’t do what we thought He would. I thought about how hungry the people were, and how long it might have taken to feed all 5,000. Suddenly, I realized that I would have been impatient and bored if I were there that day. Sure, watching the first few hundred people eat a miracle would be great, but after about 20 minutes, I would start the eternal chant of humanity, “What about me?” Knowing myself, I could lose sight of the epic event in light of my own selfishness and impatience. I couldn’t rejoice in a miracle that didn’t happen “my way.”
I might wonder why the method wasn’t faster or more efficient. Likely, I would question why Jesus didn’t send more people to distribute the bread. I would imagine how I could do God’s job better. How do I know this? Because I’ve done it a thousand times. I pray for God to do something incredible and then complain when it doesn’t look the way I hoped. I make the miracle mundane. We all do, to an extent. We can be in a moment of biblical proportions and then lose total perspective as we make it about ourselves. The truth is, every meal is a miracle, and every answered prayer a gift. Even when we don’t realize it, and even when it doesn’t look how we think it should. Our perspective is rarely the right one, and it almost always causes us to miss the movement of God.
As if he was reading my mind, Aaron chimed in. “What if the people in the back didn’t even know they were eating a miracle at all?” He was right. There could have been people, perhaps the last thousand or so, who didn’t even know what had taken place. They would bite into their provided meal without realizing where it came from. Not only do we impatiently question God’s work in our lives, but sometimes we miss it altogether. We take the bread that’s handed to us, never recognizing that everything in our hand is from a Provider. What a shame, to miss out on the wonder of seeing Jesus move.
This week, I am taking an inventory of my attitudes. Where do I overlook God’s movement in my life? Do I strive to notice what He’s done for me, or am I hurrying His work along? I don’t want to be another person in the crowd, changing my mind about whether or not He is always good. I want to be the girl, astonished and hungry, who recognizes her daily miracle.