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Digitized Discipleship

Faith & the BlessMobile

Posted by Dana Jean on

Loaves & Fishes-style

There’s a point about 24 hours before any given BlessMobile trip that I have a flash of panic, like there might not be enough food. So I either cave in to that worry and run to the store to get more, still worrying that I’m not making enough, or I try to just accept that what we have will have to be enough. (I don’t do the latter very well.)

I’ll tell you something, though. There really is always enough, whether I run to the store or not. We have not once run out of anything important before everyone had a serving. And, just about every time we serve, we send leftovers home with folks. Whenever I tell that to people, I always explain it off as being a “loaves and fishes” kind of thing. You know, like when Jesus used 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5,000 people.

But I wonder if that doesn’t diminish the power of that story a bit. There’s so much more to the story than just the fact that Jesus fed so many with what seemed like so little. He certainly could have done that without those items if he had wanted, so it probably isn’t really about the food itself anyway. Let’s unpack it a little, especially as it relates to our BlessMobile ministry.

This might be frowned upon, but I like to combine two of the Gospels for this story: the first half of Luke’s version and the last half of John’s. Each of the 4 different accounts of this story offer slightly different details, and I use Luke and John simply because, combined, they give a really good overview of our BlessMobile ministry’s founding principles and the faith we bring to this work.

Here’s the first part of John:


John 6:5–14

Now, the 2nd part of Luke:


Luke 9:10–13

There’s so much to the story of this miracle, but as for how it relates to our BlessMobile ministry, I have four main points to make about the faith we must have when doing this kind of ministry.

Point #1: We do not rely on our own resources. And, we do our best not to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. God will provide! (John 6:7)

One of the things that jumps out in the Gospel of John is that Philip challenged Jesus, asking where they’d be able to buy enough bread for that many people. He went so far as to say even 6 months of their wages wouldn’t be enough. I think Philip was a bit like me the day before a BlessMobile trip: a little overwhelmed and trying not to panic. Think about it! He’s looking out at a crowd of 5,000, basically out in the middle of nowhere. There’s no Sonic, no Chipotle, not even a deli to get a cup of soup. What in the heck are they going to do with 5,000 hungry people??? Or in our case,

HOW ARE WE GOING TO FEED 100+ PEOPLE WITH 2 PANS EACH OF RICE, BEANS, AND TACO MEAT???

But Jesus already knew what he was going to do. He was going to provide. Just as he provides for us in our personal lives, the life of this church and the life of our BlessMobile ministry. God will provide! And he provides in abundance!

On a personal note, I also love that Jesus doesn’t seem to have chastised Philip for questioning! It makes me feel better about my moment of panic the day before a BlessMobile run!

Point #2: That little boy didn’t even need a miracle; he already had his food! Like that boy, we must put ourselves in a place to offer our own gifts back to the one who gave them to us. (John 6:9)

Point #3: Imagine what that boy witnessed and how he was changed by it! So we must intentionally put ourselves in a place to witness God’s miracles. (John 6:9)

(I’m combining these two points because they really go hand in hand.)

At St. Andrew’s, we love to tell the story of Andrew finding the boy in the crowd with his fishes and loaves because it really represents our values: we value children and know they have something great to offer. And it’s true: that boy gave something of significant value when he could easily have said, “Nah, I’m gonna just take these groceries back to my mom like she told me to.” What faith he had! And, how cool is it that he put himself in the line of sight where he would be seen by Andrew so he could offer his gifts AND then see what Jesus was going to do with them!

Oh Lord, let us be willing in our personal lives and in this ministry to intentionally put ourselves out there like that, giving of our gifts while also waiting expectantly to see the miracles God will perform with them!

Point #4: Like the disciples, we must intentionally accept God’s invitation to participate in his miracles! (John 6:8–9)

 

In all four Gospel accounts, the authors recorded that when the disciples approached him about the hungry crowd, his answer was to tell them, “You give them something to eat.” (I like to imagine he put emphasis on the “you” as in “YOU feed them, guys! I’m exhausted!”) Imagine their reactions: looking awkwardly around at each other like, “us???” Gulp.

This could be another point in the interaction that was a bit stressful to these guys who were mostly fisherman, not restaurateurs or short order cooks, but once they got their heads around it, and then later in retrospect I imagine even more so, they surely realized how amazing it was that they were invited to participate in a miracle of this magnitude! God does that, though — he asks us to join him! I’m pretty sure he prefers it that way too. He prefers to let us partner with him because it’s such amazing work that he wants us to know on a deeply personal level what it feels like to be part of it! It’s truly transformational, which is probably why he invites us into such miraculous ministry with him!

 . . . . .

That’s it. Four major ways we must have faith in this ministry (and any ministry) are covered in this little story we often joke about at potlucks and picnics:

  1. God will provide;
  2. Offer our gifts back to the one who gave them to us;
  3. Put ourselves intentionally in a place to witness God’s miracles; and,
  4. Intentionally accept God’s invitation to participate in those miracles.

But did anyone notice I haven’t pulled in anything specific from the Gospel of Luke yet? Ya, that’s because I’ve drawn you into a 2-part post… Ha!

Where John illustrates the faith we must have when running a ministry of this magnitude, we’ll go back to Luke — and the other 3 as well — for practical issues of how we operate. The loaves and fishes miracle provides a great guide for us in our faith and in practical ways, too. So please stay tuned for Part 2 of this post and find out how we put this lesson into practice!

 
 
 ~dana

Tags: christianity, digitized, disciples, discipleship, jesus, handsandfeet

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