Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What to do with the 5,000...

I wish I would have been there, at the feeding of the 5,000.  I like to picture that I was.  I imagine I was sitting right by Peter, obviously, putting our foots in our mouths silmultaneously .  I can see the hillside, smell the Sea of Galilee, and hear the silence of the crowds as they listen to Jesus teach.

I wonder what the disciples were thinking as they saw the people gathering?  Was excitement mounting as the crowd grew?  Were they looking at each other, eye brows raised, silently mouthing "WOW" at each other? Were they gearing up to minister, disciple, and preach?


But perhaps there was other emotions as well.  If you look at the context of the story you see that John the Baptist had just been martyred. John--Jesus' forerunner! The guy who put his neck out for the Messiah. (Yes, that was a very bad joke about his beheading.) In fact, Jesus was on this side of Sea because he was looking for time to be alone, to mourn John's death.  I wonder what kind of state the twelve were in?  How did the death of John affect them?  Were they dealing with fear? Depression? Doubt? Were their minds drifting to the growing realization that following Jesus might be quite the challenge?

Maybe they felt a mix of these things.

But either way, there's an impromptu church service taking shape here.  And Jesus is going to creatively teach these super-Christians a huge lesson about ministry.

The people keep coming.  Everywhere they look men are hustling to sit on the ground and hear from Jesus.  Women, with children on the hip and others following close behind, are getting as close to Jesus as they can.  The disciples see them coming.

I see them coming too.  I feel a growing excitement in my spirit, that perhaps the disciples felt.  There's a lot of people that I see coming towards Jesus.  I see the junior high girls who are growing in their knowledge of Jesus, hundreds of them.  I see them wanting more of Jesus each month at youth group! I see the high school girls gathering, I see it in their eyes when they first 'get it' that God has saved them so that they can serve and love him right back. I see the girls who have come to Adored--and the ones who will come in the future, hearing Jesus' words and just wanting to get closer and closer to his feet.  I see them.  And I love them.

And so I come to Jesus, and say, "Feed them Jesus," with anticipation and child-like faith in my voice.

But He says, "You feed them."

I picture myself having one of two responses to Jesus' commands, depending on my mood that day. :)

One:  I fall back on my rump, as if slapped on the face by one of those Galilee fish. "Me?! Me feed them? Excuse me?  Lord, I have 3 young kids, and a very busy husband, and a part time job, and my house hasn't been clean in 3 years. Lord there are A LOT OF PEOPLE. I do not have the time, energy, or skills to feed them! And I have done plenty of ministry, I think it's my turn to take a luxury cruise down the Jordan River, all-inclusive. " And then I sit there, all but drowning in my burn-out/self-pity puddle of tears.

Or...two: I jump up, fist pump the heavens with all the cheese that a lifetime of youth group gives you, and yell "Yee-haw!  I'm in.  I'll feed them! Thanks Lord! I'm on it---I'll break them into small groups...I'll answer all their questions, I'll teach them about you, heck--I'll create a conference for the girls! We will give them hot pink sunglasses!"

But see, moments after either of these responses, I will end up in the exact same place.

Wether I'm sitting on my tush complaining about my limitations compared to the need, or I'm running around trying to learn all 5,000 names---either response, a few moments later, I picture myself eventually pausing, slowing turning around, and looking at Jesus.

And he's looking right at me, as if he knew I would eventually get to this point.

Because I'm realizing that he's just creatively taught ME something fundamental about ministry:  I can't feed them.

The job is too big. And I'm too broken.  Too tainted by pride, independence, fear, fatigue.

But HE'S not.  And his understanding eyes beckon me back to him, bringing my basket of 5 fish and 2 loaves of bread.

So I drop my measly fish and bread at his feet---my limited time, my pitiful attempts to be pure, my overwhelmingly massively huge dreams for Adored---I lay them down and sit back and watch Jesus beckon the 5,000 to himself.  And I watch them learn that he is the bread of life and the perfect provider.

So, what to do with the 5,000?  Well, I'm gonna do everything.  And nothing. I'm gonna stare at Jesus, who coaxes me to face my incapabilities at the exact moment that He guides me to wear myself out for the people that He loves!

Because these people need Jesus.  So many of them for the first time.  Many of them need Him to refresh, heal, and remind them of his sufficiency.  Many of them, to hear about their purpose on this earth.

Somedays the crowd is pressing in just a bit too much.  And I just want to escape.  Somedays I wonder if following Jesus is just a bit too risky (and exhausting!).

But most days, I err on the other side! I want to do everything. I want to teach, preach, write, lead!  I want to love my 8th grade girls, challenge the high school girls, inspire my husband, and raise godly boys. And man, do I want God to take Adored and give it wings! I want to take it on the road, grow it, use it in monumental and deep ways among this generation's young ladies.

And Jesus knows that.  He knows me, he understands me, he created me. I can trust Him with my dreams.

To those of you that have the privilege to see the multitudes gathering, I'm with you.  To those of you who want to change the world, I get it.  To you who are so comforted by the love of God that you might burst if you don't scream it at the top of your lungs, I feel ya.

So let's pause, turn around, and fix our eyes on Jesus.  He loves us, he has purpose for us.  But let's never, ever, take on the 5,000 on our own gusto.  Let us, instead, rejoice in our limitations and celebrate Christ's sufficiency.  And in this perspective may we hold off burn out and soar with excitement as we see the people come to Jesus.



  1. Well written and extremely insightful, Rebekah. Words of comfort, inspiration and love coming from Jesus through you - thanks for sharing His voice and presence
    to encourage and guide us in today's world. Shine on, girl!
    Love, Aunt Cid

  2. You are a gifted writer whose heart is seen through the transparency of your words. It is beautiful and truthful. No doubt God will continue to do mighty things in and through you Rebekah. Again, how I wish that my girls could be under your love and teaching....