The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
~ Mark 6:30-46
Sometimes I think that there are simply stories that we have heard in scripture that we seem to lose part of the impact the story actually has. The loaves and fishes story seems to be one of them. Oh, don't get me wrong, I think it is a great reminder that often there are resources around us that we don't realize until we are either asked or reminded, but then there are times when the surprise is a miracle.
Having worked several years with churches that did a lot of outreach ministry, when I talk of "loaves and fishes," I'm referring to miraculous moments.
The first time happened almost twenty years ago in the food pantry at the Alvin First Christian Church. News of our food pantry had been growing, and more people from around the county were sharing the news that if you were hungry and in need, we would help. It just so happened that God was also moving behind the scenes. On one particular day the line was longer than the resources. We were attempting to make sure that every family that came to the pantry would receive some kind of meat for their bag. Before we knew it, every package of sandwich meat and every hot dog had gone out the door.
As the volunteers stopped to look at the line of people still waiting, and looking at each other, there was literally a knock at the back door. When I opened the door, it was an entire truck bed full of hamburger, roasts, and hot dogs. It was a "loaves and fishes" moment! Not one single person went without that day, and those that had waited the longest in the hot summer heat, ended up with a greater blessing because of the thoughtfulness of this man.
It's not always about food. One Sunday one of our members in an inner city congregation I was serving seemed to become like a mannequin. He literally was sitting in a chair and became fixated on the wall, eyes not blinking, and no moment to his name being called or anything! Within a few moments, there was a stranger that came into where we were gathering, and shared that she was a nurse, and what the man was experiencing was a type of seizure. The stranger sat with him until he recovered, and then she excused herself. We never saw her again.
Over the years I have become that Christian that simply believes that "loaves and fishes" moments are real. They exist around us all the time, but we sometimes get so caught up in what's going on that we fail to recognize the blessing.
Hoping that your day is filled with "loaves and fishes" stories...
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear Lord, help me to recognize the blessings that You have given each day. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.