A friend asked me the other day how my day was and how things were going as I prepare for a trip I’m leaving on next week. I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer. It had been a good day and a good week, filled with beautiful moments of God at work. It’s also been a hard week and continues to be busy and full of challenging messy places where people, including myself, desperately need Jesus. Depression, death, illness, confusion, uncertainty, and grief in situations all around me, not to mention trying to prepare for my trip while also making sure everything’s covered while I’m gone for two weeks.
People keep telling me to rest… take time for myself… to not start the trip exhausted. It’s great advice (that I truly am trying to take whenever possible!!!), but I guess right now my life feels a lot like what was going on in Mark 6.
Jesus and his disciples had been going, going, going… It says they didn’t even have time to eat. In what has become one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible, Jesus says to them, “Come away with me to a quiet place and rest for a while.” What an awesome invitation!
So off they went, but as soon as they got to the where He had their “R&R” planned, the crowds were right there waiting, longing for healing and teaching and to simply be near Jesus as well. Jesus and His disciples had every reason to walk away from the people that day… They had been so busy with ministry that they didn’t even have time to eat. They were exhausted. You can tell Jesus is craving some alone time with His Father. And to top it all off, they were grieving as they had just learned of the death of Jesus’ relative, John the Baptist. Yet, Mark tells us that Jesus “had compassion on them” and served them and taught them, even from that place of exhaustion and grief and struggle.
This scene turns into what is commonly known as the Feeding of the 5,000, where a little boy gave up his lunch of a few fish and loaves of bread and as it was broken and passed out, THOUSANDS were fed. Not only that, but there were baskets left over. There was more at the end than what they started with! It boggles my mind every time I think of it.
So, while it would be awesome to start off this trip energized and ready and well prepared (and maybe that will happen in the next few days) I’m going to trust that as I give Jesus whatever I’ve got, He’ll be able to do more with those little, broken pieces than I could ever imagine… with even more leftover than what I started with!
Missionary Amy Carmichael put it this way:
“In the morning we put our day in the Lord’s hands. Then we began to do His work, but we were not able to do nearly as much as we had hoped. Interruptions came and broke up our plans, and the evening finds us a little disappointed. ‘I hoped to do so much, and I have done nothing worth bringing to Thee’—and that is how we feel. I have been finding new comfort in the two words, which are used by the four evangelists in telling the end of the story of the feeding of the Five Thousand. They speak of ‘broken pieces’ and the same words are used by two in telling of the later miracle. There was nothing left over but broken pieces, and yet of those fragments our Lord said, Gather them up that nothing be lost. Even so, our dear Lord cares for the broken pieces of our lives, the fragments of all we meant to do, the little that we have to gather up and offer, and He will use even these fragments. He will not let even the least of our little broken things be lost.”
After everyone was fed, Jesus DID find a few moments to sneak away to be alone and rest with His Father. I’m on the lookout for those moments to grab them whenever I can, but until then, I pray that God can simply use what I’ve got, no matter how small or broken it may seem, and potentially even feed thousands with it! This challenging, beautiful week has also put me in a place of humility and complete dependence on God, which actually seems like a perfect place to be as I head out… Simply abiding in Him and trusting Him for the fruit. Knowing clearly that apart from Him I can do nothing! I can’t wait to see what He has in store and how He’ll use my broken pieces!