As they sit on the mountainside with 5000 men and countless woman and children, Jesus and his disciples are faced with the task of feeding the crowd. For a week in advance, I make menus, grocery lists, and schedules just to feed 16 people for Thanksgiving. The total spread for 5000+ people—5 small barley loaves and 2 fish given by a boy.
Imagine one child opening his lunchbox in the cafeteria and trying to feed his whole class. It didn’t seem like much, but that child gave everything he had. His gift was so small that it seemed embarrassing in contrast to the need. His small portion couldn’t really make a difference, right? I wonder how many times we don’t act because we feel like our contribution is too small and won’t make a difference. We don’t have the money or the skill to solve the whole problem or meet the whole need. So, we do nothing. Have you ever wished that you could do more but you just couldn’t? Sometimes the smallest gestures mean the most. There have been times when I really wanted to just fix a situation but I couldn’t, so instead, I just listened because that is what I could do at the time.That boy’s contribution not only fed all of the people, it was more than enough. Jesus took his meager portions and created a feast for all present. That’s what he does with us as well. He takes our small individual gifts and multiples them for the good of many more. When we faithfully give our little bit, he uses it to do what we could have never dreamed.
And what about the leftovers? “When they had all had enough to eat, [Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” John 6:12. He cared even about the crumbs that were left. There is no part of us that he wants to be wasted either. Those parts that we think are insignificant, those mistakes we made, the lessons we learned, are all crumbs that are part of our story. These are the pieces that he can use to feed others, the parts of our life that can encourage someone else to understand the all-encompassing love and grace that overcomes all.