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.

The Hem of His Garment

“The Hem of His Garment,” © 2004 by MessianicArt.com

If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well. Mark 5:28 (NKJV)

For 12 long years she suffered. She tried every recourse available, but to no avail. “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet of instead of getting better, she grew worse” (Mark 5:26).

I wonder—Was she beyond desperation, past the point of caring? Had she surrendered to her illness, counting the days until it would finally siphon her last ounce of energy, her last breath? Only then would she have relief.

But then she heard something that stirred up a hope she thought long dead: Jesus of Nazareth was passing through—the man whose reputation as a miracle worker was spreading through the country like a wildfire through the withered wasteland: how He’d healed the leper and the man with the withered hand, how he’d driven thousands of demons from the crazy man that lived in Gadarene tombs. Why, word had it that He even calmed a storm at sea with only a few words! Surely He could help her.

She knew she wasn’t allowed in public in her condition, but maybe, just maybe . . . She wrapped her mantle around her face and stepped out the door.

When she saw the crowds swarming around Him, she despaired. She didn’t have a chance. But something in her emboldened her to push through the throng. She was almost to Him when she heard Jairus’s voice: “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so she will be healed and live.”

She knew the little girl—she was only 12. And here she was, way past her prime. Better to let Him go to the girl and not take the time to bother with an old woman. Besides, Jairus was one of the higher ups in the local synagogue, and who was she? A nobody. She turned to leave, but the swarming crowd pushed her closer to Jesus—close enough to touch Him. Hope flared.

“If just touch His clothes . . .”

She reached out. Her fingertips brushed the hem of His garment. Suddenly she felt whole. Healthy. Strong. Healed.

Jesus stopped abruptly and looked around. “Who touched Me?”

In the midst of a jostling crowd, He knew. Terror seized her. Would He be angry? Would her illness return?

Trembling, she fell at His feet and confessed. Love, not condemnation, poured from His eyes.

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Later she heard that He’d brought Jairus’s daughter back from the dead.

Sometimes I wish that Jesus still walked this earth so I, too, can reach out and touch the hem of His garment.

And then I remember—He does: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)—and I can: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.   (Ps. 5:3). Amen.

Feeling God doesn’t care about you? Read Psalm 139.

Read and reflect on Mark 5:25-34.

(c) 2011 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.