Slim Pickings

“Here is a boy here with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” – John 6:9 (NIV)

He was one of the children among the crowd following Jesus that day. He carried with him five small barley loaves and two tiny fish, perhaps packed by his mother when he left that morning. When Jesus eyed the throng, He turned to Philip. “Where are we going to buy bread for all these people?” 

“Eight months’ wages wouldn’t buy enough for everyone to have even a bite!” Philip answered. It was Philip, remember, who later asked Jesus to “Show us the Father, and we’ll be satisfied,” to which Jesus replied, “You’ve been with Me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father!” Poor, blind Philip. 

It was Andrew who volunteered the lad’s lunch. He, too, didn’t see the potential, didn’t connect the dots, after all Jesus’ miracles he’d witnessed: “But how will five small barley loaves and two small fish feed 15,000 people?” 

You know the rest of the story—the multitude was fed and the leftovers filled 12 baskets!

But what if the boy had refused to donate his munchies? The obvious answer is the people would have had to get something to eat themselves. The less noticeable answer is that a blessing—a huge blessing, a blow-your-mind, knock-your-socks-off kind of blessing—would have been missed.

The lad didn’t lose anything, didn’t give anything up, really. He, too, ate until he was full—of the small offering he gave to Jesus, who had the power to transform “not enough” into “more than enough.” 

Sometimes we think what we have to offer Jesus is slim pickings. How could it possibly make a difference? 

Ah, therein lies the test! 

Give Him all you have, no matter how small you think it is. Let it go, completely, all of it, like the little boy who held back none of his lunch. And watch God take what you give and multiply it so that it blesses more people than you could have imagined.  

Remember the words of Martin Luther: “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”

I think of authors who have had many of their books and articles published, of speakers who take their messages the world over. I compare myself with them. And I feel so . . . little.

Shame on me. I’m blind like Philip and skeptical like Andrew, who no doubt thought he was being practical. 

Shame on me. I need to be more like the little boy who gave up his lunch—and trust that what I think is slim pickings, in the hands of God, will be multiplied many times over, work more miracles than I could ever have dreamed possible—and come back to bless me, too. 

Forgive me, Lord, for doubting what I have to offer could ever be enough to make a difference. Remind me that, in Your hands, little is much! Amen.

Read and reflect on: John 6:3–13.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.