Toast and Fish Sticks

The bigness of life has surprised me.

When I was young I expected life to become simpler as I grew older. I thought my days would get easier because I would be more equipped to handle the things that would come along.

What I didn’t understand then was the sheer size and complexity of the mess left by that choice in Eden. Recently my husband and I have been asked — both personally and professionally — to speak truth into some pretty profound darkness, and it can feel overwhelming at times.

I spent a good part of last week preparing for a couple significant projects on the horizon, and I have to be honest that it’s easy to feel unqualified to add my voice to such important conversations. The other day I texted my sister about some of what I’ve been asked to do and told her, “I wonder when they’ll realize that I’m just a me.”

We’re just kids playing house, and then suddenly we’re grown-ups making real decisions and speaking real words that affect real lives.

Now here we are working these jobs and serving in these ministries and fighting for these causes and loving these neighbors and raising these kids. The task ahead can loom enormous and our hands can seem so very small.

I’ve been thinking lately about the story in John 6 of the boy holding his little supper in the middle of a hungry, milling crowd. Maybe he was young enough that he wasn’t intimidated by the size of the need. Or maybe he was so focused on Jesus that all he saw was the Teacher’s desire to feed the people, and he just wanted to participate in the modest way he could. I doubt that boy had any idea his five small loaves of bread and two fish would be multiplied to feed thousands. I doubt he knew his tiny contribution would be recorded and retold for millennia. He didn’t hide his food for himself, assuming it wouldn’t make a real difference, and he didn’t require an explanation of what Jesus was going to do with it before he surrendered his supper. He just gave it. He handed it over simply because Jesus asked.

A lot of days I don’t even have loaves and fish to give. Really, my life right now is more of a toast and fish sticks kind of thing. Today what I have to offer is a pile of unfolded laundry, dinner waiting to be cooked, emails crowding my inbox, a couple arms to wrap around my husband and kids, and a few meager words held out like crumbs.

There’s no way I can meet all the needs of even the handful of people closest to me, much less the crowd. But I can bring the little pieces of my toast-and-fish-sticks life and offer them to Jesus to multiply and distribute the way He knows is best.

Sometimes Jesus uses what we bring to nourish just a few, and sometimes He uses it to feed thousands. It’s the same miracle either way.

It’s not about the scale or visible impact of what He invites us to be part of — it’s about offering Him our scraps and scribbles and watching Him do something with them that will last into eternity. Out from under the weight of expected results, we can hand Him even our simplest efforts with confidence and joy. The issues around us may be huge and complex, but our role in facing them is no more complicated than saying yes when Jesus asks to use what we’re holding so He can do what only He can do.

“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.” ~John 6:11 (NLT)

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