When my oldest daughter was about 6 and she was Christmas shopping with her mother, my wife asked her what she wanted to get me for Christmas, she immediately cried out, “Legos!” That Christmas morning I opened a little box of Legos with a pirate, treasure chest and monkey. That little Lego set still sits on my desk at work now some 19 years later. It reminds me of my daughter. It reminds me of the joy she had in picking the gift and giving her father something that meant something to her. It was just a little thing, but it had great impact beyond the financial value of the item. It was a genuine expression of her heart.
There is a story in the Bible of a little boy giving a little something to Jesus which had great impact. The story is found in the Gospel of John.
Jesus soon saw a great crowd of people climbing the hill, looking for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Philip, where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “It would take a small fortune to feed them!” Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus ordered. So all of them – the men alone numbered five thousand – sat down on the grassy slopes. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and passed them out to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate until they were full.
There are two main ideas I want to highlight here. First, the disciples could not see beyond their own resources. Not only that, they dismissed as insignificant the resources (loaves and fish) that were offered. “What good is that…” they said, not looking for or even asking Jesus what He had in mind. Now to be fair to them, it really was beyond them to be able to feed these people. Being an engineer I did a little calculation just to get an idea of the magnitude of the situation. Let’s say that a large pizza has 16 slices and each man ate just two slices each. That means that to feed just the 5000 men we would need about 312 pizzas. At $10 per pizza, we are looking at about $3120. That really is a small fortune, but the point is that they were with Jesus. Being with Jesus always changes the math. Being with Jesus always changes what is possible.
The second point is that Jesus took what was offered by the young boy and giving thanks used it to feed many. Let me say that again. Jesus took what was offered!
Many of us are too much like the disciples; we look only at our own resources against the magnitude of the needs around us and say, “It is not enough.” Or “I don’t have anything to offer.” Or even “Why bother.” We don’t think we have any talents or gifts or money or value to offer to anyone else much less God. So we sit back and say to ourselves, “Oh well.” Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that we need to do great things for God. Preach to thousands. Build huge churches. Give lots of money. Support great missions. That is simply not true. I think God simply wants us to give Him what we have, as little as it seems. If we have only 10 minutes a day to give Him, then give it gladly and enjoy His presence. If all we can do is cook a meal for a friend (or stranger), then do it gladly as an offering to God. If all we can do is smile and give someone an encouraging word, then do it gladly as a genuine expression of our heart. All of us have a few loaves of bread and a few fish (metaphorically) that we can take to Jesus and say “Here, can you use this?” He will take what we offer, give thanks then He will use it to bless many.
Please don’t minimize yourself, don’t dismiss who you are and what you have. Who would have thought that a Lego pirate could bring such joy?