It’s that time of year where everyone’s doing a lot of reflection – and my own brain is in complete overdrive.
I think one of the biggest hurdles I had to jump this year was recognizing that my life was more than about just me. That in order for God to use me I had to be willing not to just live the life I wanted to live, but the life He had set out for me – a life that encompassed all my dreams and heart’s desires, and yet at the same time was so much bigger and better than any version of life I could have dreamt up for myself. It was really a case of me having to come to an oh-so-difficult-to-grasp truth:
God needs your story to make HIStory.
It’s a scary thought: having to surrender everything you’ve ever dreamt up for yourself and trust Him with it. But I think it’s scary because we completely miss the bigger picture.
We live in a world filled with so much chaos and destruction. You can’t turn on the news for 5 minutes and not fall into some manner of depression. And many wonder: where is God? Why is He silent? If God is really God – or if there is a God at all – then why do bad things happen? Or at the very least, why do bad things happen to good people? And in the face of these questions we write God off as uncaring or unfaithful. We make Him out to be a bipolar benevolent tooth fairy, or at very best, uninterested in the humanity He created.
But throughout all of time, God has used people to bring about change in the world. He used Moses to stop the injustice of slavery and Joseph to deliver nations from famine. Jonah delivered the God-given message that would prevent a city’s destruction, and Isaiah gave his vision from God and a nation something to hope for. These people and many more throughout the Bible created change in the world in which they lived because they were willing to hand over their story to God. They were willing to make their lives about much more than what they wanted, but about what God wanted to do in and through them. And none of them were disappointed. God used them to do amazing things in and for the world around them.
God wants to do something – to write one heck of a story – through you too.
A Fish in the Hand…
Never before had I read the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes this way before. In Matthew 14 Jesus meant to get away with the disciples to a quiet place to mourn the death of his cousin (John), but a multitude followed him, hungry for more of his teaching and his healing. Jesus, having compassion on them, drew them to him and began to teach them. Soon, it was suppertime and his heart broke again. He didn’t just want these people to have words – He wanted them to have provision. He wanted them to know that as much as he cared for their spiritual nourishment, he cared for their physical needs too.
So what does he do? He instructs the disciples to feed them. I can just imagine Peter rolling his eyes. ‘Feed all these men, AND the women and children they came with? With no food?’ he protests, ‘Why not just send them off to feed themselves?’ But Jesus declines this suggestion. He wants to be the one to provide for these people. He wants them to trust him and his provision. So he asks, ‘what food do you have on you?’. A disciple points out a couple lone fishes and loaves of bread lying at the bottom of a sack. Jesus splits up the multitude into groups of 50 and 100 on the grass, takes the food, lifts it up to heaven, blesses it, and breaks it into pieces.
Then he gives those pieces to the disciples.
But wait – the disciples weren’t the hungry ones. The disciples weren’t the ones Jesus primarily meant to feed. So why give the broken pieces to them? I’m sure Jesus could have turned the grass into rice, or simply flung the bread out to the people. He could have had manna and quail fall down from heaven to feed the multitudes – he’d done it before. So why use the disciples?
Jesus did what he and his Father have always done – used the hands and resources of mere people – even a single, lowly person – to create change in the world; to give provision, spread His love, and to draw others to him.
What would have happened if the disciple declined to give the bread and fish? If he had decided that his personal needs and desires far outweighed those of the multitude? Or if he never offered because he thought what he had wasn’t enough? What if he chose his own plans of what he was going to use the little he had at his disposal for instead of choosing to trust Jesus with it? What if the disciples had kept the broken pieces for themselves instead of handing them out? Would they have multiplied? Surely not. And the multitudes would have stayed hungry.
But the disciples were willing. And they gave what had been given to them to feed the world around them. And when they gave, guess what? Someway, somehow, there were exactly 12 full baskets left over – one for each of them.
When you give up your story and take up God’s, not only will God use you to create change in the world around, but he will provide for you too. Not only will the lives of those around you be blessed, but so will yours. You will find your wildest and deepest dreams and desires laid out before you, and in such grandeur that you could never have managed on your own.
God is inviting you to make your story His. It might seem scary and like you’re staking your reputation on living a story you don’t know the end of – but guess what? God’s story already has an ending, and in the ending, you win. It’s the same outcome every single time. And even better than an assured victory, you can rest assured that it’s God’s reputation that’s on the line, and not yours. Even if not for His love for you – even if not for the goodness of His very being – God will have His story play out in your favor simply for His names sake.
So would you, even if just for a moment, put down your pen, and trust Him with His?