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A hitchhiker has his thumb up as he’s standing on the side of a road. A truck driver stops. The trucker opens the window and yells out. “Hey, is your name Jello?” The hitchhiker, confused, answers, â€œUm, no, itâ€™s Dave.â€ “Well that’s too bad,” shouts the truck driver, “cause thereâ€™s always room for Jello!”Â
One of the things people too often believe is that there isnâ€™t enough. There isnâ€™t enough time for them. There isnâ€™t enough love for them. There arenâ€™t enough cures for them or a loved one. There isnâ€™t enough money in their future, or for today.Â
When you look back on your life, itâ€™s so easy to see the times when you thought you didn’t have enough to make it through, and yet things worked out. We call that hindsight, and itâ€™s of course 20/20. Now itâ€™s easy to see that I was never going to become a professional basketball player. And itâ€™s just fine. There was more than one path to my life. There are more than enough options available for you. God gives us more than enough.Â
The spiritual truth is that the next good thing starts very small, as a small blessing.
What’s really true is that sometimes we don’t even know when God’s gift has arrived. In fact, what wasn’t a blessing at one time later on becomes something that changed your life.
We’re willing to say after the fact, after we were shown that there is more than enough, we’re willing to say we are glad we went through what we went through. â€œI wouldnâ€™t be the person I am today if it werenâ€™t for me not getting that job, or if I didnâ€™t get sick, or if I had gotten married to him or her.â€ When we look back we see the hand of God and can give thanks for Godâ€™s abundant care for us.Â
Youâ€™re always in Godâ€™s sight, even if God isnâ€™t in yours. God always keeps faith even when we’re losing ours.Â
Mark loves the loaves and fish story so much that he put it into his Gospel twice. But heâ€™s not the only Gospel author who loves it. This story is the only story that appears in all four Gospels.Â
Of Markâ€™s two, this is the first one. In the second one, Jesus has seven loaves and a few small fish; in the first one he has fives loaves and two fish. In that one, the crowds have been with him for three days with nothing to eat, and he has compassion for their hunger; in this one he is in a deserted place but the crowds still follow him, and he has compassion for them and so he
teaches them, as a shepherd would lead sheep. In the other one, Jesus arranges the whole meal; in this one he challenges the disciples to â€œgive them something to eat.â€Â
One might think this would show that these stories disagree or arenâ€™t historically accurate, which means theyâ€™re not reliable. You know whatâ€™s interesting is that Mark didnâ€™t think it was necessary to â€œclean upâ€ his stories. After all, he could have made sure they agreed on these details. Why didnâ€™t he?Â
First, these stories came to him. They were first part of the oral tradition of the Church. This is the first stage of creating our Bible. Stories about what Jesus said and did were passed around first, by different people in different locations. The second stage occurred when people started writing these stories down. The third stage started when Gospel writers such as Mark and Luke took these stories and put them into a larger narrative, a Gospel narrative.Â
So why didnâ€™t Mark rewrite these two stories so they would match? Two reasons: First, he didnâ€™t think it was necessary. He didnâ€™t have the need to make things perfect in a historically accurate sense to be truthful. Thatâ€™s how we often look at things that have happened to decide if theyâ€™re true or not. This isnâ€™t how people always determine or determined what is true.
Second, and the bigger reason, is because he didnâ€™t believe it was his right to change stories that were handed to him by others. You donâ€™t mess around with a divine story. You keep it and pass it on. His job was to tell Christ Jesusâ€™ ministry and importance as he was receiving it. His job was not to make sure everything lined up as far as the number of fish, etc.Â
What is the same in both stories is Jesus always believing this was the beginning of something good. In our scripture story, the disciples think they’re stuck. They’re in a desert, they remind Jesus, so how can the people be fed. Jesus isn’t dissuaded but instead points to the beginning of the blessingâ€”five loaves and two fish.Â
Jesus is always looking and pointing out the seed of possibility. He keeps his mind focused on the good things in front of him, and his heart stays on hope.Â
Train your mind to see what others might miss. Even though the mustard seed is such a tiny seed, it grows into a large bush. The kingdom starts small but refuses to stay that way if we keep growing it. Train your
heart to keep hope alive. You simply can’t see what good things God has in store.
But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean Christ isn’t asking for it. Jesus always seems to be asking more of us than we have to give. He calls on us to love, even when love is difficult; to forgive, even when we have been wronged; to stand fast and firm on our principles, even when it means standing alone.Â
Jesus asks these things because he knows you have more than enough to accomplish good stuff, great stuff. He keeps faith that God has already laid enough seed on the ground to bring forth growth.Â
When David was a young man, he was already famous in Israel. He had killed Goliath, he had married King Saul’s daughter, and lived in the royal house. But King Saul turned against David out of jealousy. David had to flee in order to save his life. He spent years on the lam. He collected hundreds of men around him, some of them vicious men of war.Â
During these years, Saul would often hunt David in hopes of finding and killing him. And he came incredibly close twice.Â
One of those times, David and his men were in the wilderness and Saul’s hunting party was nearby. In the early morning, David and two of his men stole into camp, found Saul and his guard asleep. Saul’s spear was stuck into the ground above his head. David’s enemy was completely vulnerable. David’s men begged him to let them kill Saul by sticking him through with his own spear. But David refused to raise his hand against Saul, God’s own anointed, and would wait for his day to come.
David quickly and silently stole Saul’s spear and water jug. When he had returned a fairly safe distance, he shouted out to Saul and told him how he taken his spear and had refused to kill him. This proved David meant no harm to the king. Saul left David alone that day.
You see, David believed in the abundance of God’s goodness. He had an expansive view of God’s blessings. He refused to take short cuts to his destiny and future. He may have to live longer on the run; he may have to make tough choices down the road but he believed above all that the right thing done today would lead to a better tomorrow. He refused to give up his belief that there was more good to come.Â
He was bigger than thatâ€”there was more than enough of him to walk with God.
You have that something. You have that blessing inside of you to get you where you’re supposed to be. You’ve received enough of God’s gifts to get done what you’re supposed to do. You have more than enough grace to let joy abound in your life. God seeks to find a way to bring us joy. And this can happen if we believe begin with a blessing, even a small one. God knows how to make the small things into the best things.Â Â Â
I heard about this man that had a picture in his office. It was of a large row boat that looked like it was stuck on the beach. The two oars were resting on the sand. You could see the ocean off in the distance, some twenty or thirty feet away. The boat was too heavy to drag. It had washed up during the high tide and now it was stranded.Â
And the picture wasn’t very beautiful, wasn’t even inspiring. Here this boat that was created to live in the water was sitting lifeless, energy-less, stuck in the sand. But at the very bottom of the picture, there was a small caption. If you didn’t look at it carefully you might have missed it. The caption read, “The tide always comes back.”
A friend of this man saw the picture and said, “Why’d you put this up in the office? It’s so depressing.” The man told how he’d gone through a great disappointment. He didn’t think he’d ever be happy again. He saw the painting at a small, antique store and bought it for just a few dollars. He said, “Every time I looked at it, I said to myself, ‘the tide is coming back.'”Â
Look for the small blessing because there is a lot more where it came from.Â
Many people feel each day like theyâ€™re always behind and canâ€™t catch up and canâ€™t do things the way they want to. We donâ€™t have enough time to explain something to our children, so we yell instead. We think we donâ€™t have enough energy to do things the right way, so we cut corners or cheat. We donâ€™t think there’s enough good in the world, so we get angry and lash out.Â
We think the tide is out and it’s going to stay out. But that’s just not true!Â
Be like Jesus, who saw in the midst of a multitude of need five loaves and two fish and believed a feast was at handâ€”and it was.Â
Be like David, who even when he had the chance to take too much, didn’t lose his hope with just a small blessing but instead trusted that God had much more to come–and there was.
Be like Paul, who in his letter to his friend Philemon, said, “knowing that you will do even more than I say,” believed, and received freely from Philemon the good gift he asked for.Â
God’s small blessings lead to great good.
An American man traveled to France, and one night as he went walking about the city, he felt a deep urge to walk out on a bridge. He began to cross the bridge. Halfway across he spotted a man on the edge of the bridge ready to jump. The man walked to him and began to speak to him, in English, asking him not to do this. The man started to talk French; neither could understand each other.Â
The American was an artist. He took out his pad and pencil, and he began to draw. When he was done with his simple drawing, he held up his picture of a cross. The other man looked at it and began to cry. The man helped the other off the edge and they hugged each other, crying together. The American walked the other man to a YMCA he had seen nearby. He knew there would be someone to take care of him there, and then he left him.Â He doesn’t know what happened to the man who was about to throw away his life, but he knows he did his part. One little drawing, one little blessing, and it made all the difference.Â Â
Consider your blessings. They’re just the beginningâ€”there are more to come. Donâ€™t wait for some other day to start trusting in what you have. The little blessings are always just the start of the feast.Â
Can the church say, â€œAmen?â€