“…we do not need to think of our obligations in terms of success; we would fail to do anything at all if we knew we had to succeed. We simply do what we can; we offer our little loaves and fishes and leave the rest to the Lord”
In retrospect, I tend to learn lessons in seasons. A summer will produce one lesson, or I’ll see that what I’ve learned in the spring was planted in the winter. Sometimes I can sense it in the moment. I will recognize that there is a pattern or a theme that seems to be weaving things together. Usually, however, it is months down the road when I have the perspective of chronology that I can see something being started.
At the end of August, I began to ponder life. The purpose of it. It’s always seemed to me that the answer to “the meaning of life” is to live it. I realized, with a heavy heart, that there is more than waking up, thanking God for the day and trusting to be blown by the wind of the Spirit to the people and places He feels I need to go. To live a full, beautiful story-life requires an urgent sense of direction.
When my mom and I went to Disneyland, she had a handicap pass that got us in through the exit and helped us bypass the lines she couldn’t stand in. My mom put on a brave face and we used that pass to get on Space Mountain. It took us straight to the loading area, where we were put in a car off to the side. It took a few rotations before they moved our car onto the track for us to start the ride.
Life with that blown-in-the-wind mentality is kind of like when we sat, full of anticipation, to the side of the track. Our lap belts were down, our items carefully stowed and my mom was sufficiently nervous. But we knew that until they had moved our car over to the track, we were just in waiting. We could see one more car pass us or two or even four. We weren’t even actually in line.
August 2012 told me to get on the track, to not just go through the motions of preparing to live a full life but to actually begin. Donald Miller wrote this blog entry called You Don’t Have To Make Your Bed to Write a Book. When I started to really live, I adopted that attitude, but towards life. “Your bed doesn’t have to be made in order to pray,” I would tell myself. “You can still offer someone a ride even if your backseat is filled with STUFF.” and the most recent one, “you can’t offer Jesus the miracle you need him to provide.”
It’s something I am the most guilty of. I pray within my resources, I dream within reach and I only embark on journeys with reasonable destinations. In other words, I want to save up my money, buy a catering service and then say “Oh, I’m sure you could do great things with one serving of bread and fish, but I went ahead and saved up enough for a thousand people. It’s not enough, but it’s the most I could acquire.”
The thing with miracles, though, is that miracles have to have a risk involved. Miracles can only occur when there is no denying that God showed up. It might require limited resources, unexplainable results, or even a drastically changed heart. The qualifier is that it leaves no room for doubt about God’s presence in the situation. I mean, some people miss it because they’re looking for a big blue genie and overlooking the lamp, but to those of us who know all of the details, it’s obvious.
So instead of building my dreams and hopes and stories around the resources at hand, I’m looking at the people around me and their needs and saying “well, God… here’s this little tiny relevant thing,” and trusting that if thousands need to be blessed, he’ll multiply it. If a couple need to be blessed, he’ll stretch it. and if I was completely off track and offering up unnecessary sacrifices, he will gently point me in a new direction.
Jesus says we need the faith of a child. The boy with the loaves and fish never worried about the end result. He was just faithful in offering it. Like tithing, it’s an investment into God’s creativity. And like tithing, it’s an opportunity for us to be part of a miracle.