To live what I like to call the simple difference, we have to exchange the way we see our not-enough for the way God sees it.
I can’t help but think about the boy who gave his small lunch. You probably know the story: A huge crowd — five thousand men, plus all the women and children — has been following Jesus and His disciples, eager to see Him heal the sick. They are in a remote location. It’s getting late, which is problematic because there isn’t enough food to feed the crowd and no easy place to get some.
The disciple Andrew points out, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9). In essence he’s saying, look at what we have — it’s something, but it’s not enough. Have you ever done this? You’re aware of a huge problem or predicament, you want to do something to help, but the resources available to you fall painfully short.
We don’t know if the boy who gave up his meager meal did so willingly or begrudgingly. What we do know is that Jesus transformed what was not enough into more than enough.
“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.”
Scripture doesn’t say if the boy was hopeful that his little lunch would help or if it felt like an empty gesture toward a lost cause. But here’s the thing: how we feel or what we think about the resources we have to give doesn’t dictate or limit God’s power to use them. It wasn’t up to the boy what became of his food. It was up to him to be aware of the needs around him, assess the resources available to him, and respond to the opportunity to make a difference.
This miracle of multiplication was fueled by God’s power! Only He could take a total lack and turn it into total satisfaction. But the spark that started the blaze of provision was one small act of obedience.
Time and time again I’m faced with what I perceive as my own inadequacy and lack. What I have to give rarely feels enough for what is needed. A friend needs help moving, but I don’t have a truck. Someone needs a babysitter, but I’m buried with work. A family can’t pay rent, but what I have to give can hardly make a dent. In times like these we need to remember that iGod’s power fills in the gap.
We have the delightful opportunity to show up, give freely, and put the responsibility of the outcome squarely where it belongs — in God’s sovereign hands.
TODAY: When a need feels too big to meet, just give exactly what you have.
-Written by Becky Keife, adapted from her (in)courage book, The Simple Difference.
When the world’s problems loom large and your ordinary life stretches you thin, is it still possible to be a difference-maker? Absolutely! One small, intentional, extravagant act of kindness at a time. The Simple Difference: How Every Small Kindness Makes a Big Impact by Becky Keife will help you to stop getting buried in busyness and distraction and discover countless opportunities for impact right where you are.
Rather than trying to do more, learn how to see more: more of the people in front of you, more of God’s lavish love for you, and more of His power within you. Grab a copy of The Simple Difference now. We pray it blesses you.
Today on the podcast — a bonus episode! Listen in as Jami Nato reads her chapter, titled Will You be a Flamethrower or a Fire Extinguisher in the Dumpster Fire of Internet Comments?, from our newest book, Come Sit With Me. Listen at the player below, or wherever you stream podcasts.Leave a Comment
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Ruth Mills says
Kathy Cheek says
I think a giving heart is an overflow of a kind and loving heart, and like your takeaway at the end states: Give exactly what we have.
Whatever we give is enough for God to work with! And if we all do this, He has a lot to work with.
Becky Keife says
This makes so much sense, Becky! Thank you! I plan to apply this principle to several of my helping ventures. Today is a good day to start!
Becky Keife says
Beautiful, Irene! Cheering you on, sister.
Becky L says
I like the way you wrote about the boy who had food and it was shared to feed people. I can imagine telling children about that if we did that lesson. The boy most likely did want to share the food.
No matter what age we are we can help in some way. Prayer works well and being kind to we speak to them. We need to keep sharing the light of Jesus throughout our lives.
Kathy Francescon says
Totally awesome and so informative! I get spiritually angry at some of the comments posted in the media world we live in! But with God’s grace, I have learned to pray for the person writing the comments that ridicule, hurt and divide…we must pray for our enemies. Blessings for even more joyous gatherings with your neighborhood friends!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
We have to true Jesus to make things in our lives stretch when we can’t give it actually all we hall. Like the Disciples that day they didn’t know how all the people including the children that would have been there that day were going to be fed. So that is why they told Jesus to send them away before it got dark to get food as they were all hungry. Jesus knew what do to feed them all. But Jesus was testing the disciples asking them to not send them away but for them to feed them. Jesus knew that he could use the 5 loaves and 2 fish and make them streach. They the disciples said all we have is this tiny lunch box of 5 loaves and 2 fish. Jesus told them to get them all to sit on the grass. This where they the disciples saw the miracle. Jesus took the loaves and fishes and bless them on his Father and they in there baskets were passed around to everyone there that day. Every one was fed that day and the leftover baskets gathered up. No one went with out all who came that day to here the king of kings speak. Jesus did what the people couldn’t do that day made the loaves and fishes streach to feed everyone. Jesus can do the same in our lives what we need streached into more if it the will of Jesus to do it for us. But we have to as save people of Jesus trust that he will do in our lives if it his will. If so he will do it on his in his perfect timing not ours. We just have to have patience. Love today reading. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Thank you for reiterating the story about the little boy, and his generosity to share the 5 little barley loaves and 2 fish. I believe
that having a thankful heart filled with gratitude helps me to give what I can.
I know that the LORD will bless the little and make it stretch for HIS Glory. he is Sovereign and in control of every situation.
Your sharing reminds me to continue to do what I can for the kingdom of GOD.
Becky Keife says
Beautifully said, Shanta. Thanks for being here.
Beth Williams says
God only wants our obedience. He expects us to give freely with the resources He has provided. I volunteer with Loaves & Fishes Food bank. Used to go several days a week till my job changed. Now I’m only able to go 1 day a week. I do whatever they need. The people are blessed with food boxes meals each night. God is blessed with my willingness to help out. Everyone has talents & we are expected to use them to bring God glory. Jesus just wants a willing heart to do something. Let the outcome be up to God.