Wednesday, February 6

Modern-Day MacGyvers: What Do You Have On Hand?

Do you remember the old 80's show MacGyver? MacGyver was a different kind of hero. Instead of having super powers he would take ordinary things - whatever he had on him or could find lying around - and he would make complicated machines. Often he found himself in difficult circumstances - trapped and facing impending death - only to escape by using the things around him, things most of us would have thought inadequate or useless.

Do you ever find yourself in a difficult situation and wonder why God put you there? Do you doubt you have the resources you need to make it through? Maybe taking a moment to see what you have and to consider who is with you can change that perspective...

Read: Mark 6:30-44
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."

37 But he answered, "You give them something to eat."

They said to him, "That would take more than half a year's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"

38 "How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see."

When they found out, they said, "Five-and two fish."

39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Jesus presents the disciples with an impossible situation: feed five thousand men (and all the unmentioned women and children too!). The disciples are stunned. Does Jesus really expect them to feed so many people? They aren't exactly a rich bunch to start with...but it would take six months wages to feed all of them! Not to mention the fact that there's no Piggly Wiggly nearby!

But Jesus is testing them. It's easy to read this and imagine Jesus with a wry smile on his face as the disciples panic. He knows what he's about to do. He wants to see if they respond like Zechariah who was told his wife would have a baby even though she was way too old or like Mary who is told she will have a child even though she has never been with a man (see Luke 1). Will they believe anything is possible with Jesus, they just don't know what the resources they have with them and in him? Or will they see their lack and the circumstances - no food and lots of people - and doubt and grumble and question?

And it isn't like they've never seen the power of God...earlier in Mark 6 Jesus sends them out and they saw people healed and demons cast out through their ministry! Earlier they'd seen Jesus raise a girl from the dead! So shouldn't they have had an inkling something was up? Then again, how often do we forget all the amazing ways God has shown up in difficult circumstances; so many prayers he's answered? How many times do you and I forget...and in the midst of the challenge panic?

When the disciples protest that feeding the crowd is too much to ask, Jesus invites them to take an inventory. In MacGyver-like fashion he wants to know what resources there are already - go and see! And when they come back it seems so little - five loaves, two fish. A little boys lunch. How could it possibly be enough? Even MacGyver couldn't feed such a large crowd with so little.

But Jesus can! He takes what there is and he makes it enough! People sometimes say Jesus never puts us in a situation that we can't handle. I disagree. I think Jesus often puts us in a situation we can't handle. He does it so we will turn to him and find out that the little we have is more than enough because he is with us too! God-sized circumstances can only be met by relying and trusting that God can take our loaves and our fish and make them enough. 

Oh, and if the disciples had missed the point, the five loaves and two fish weren't just enough...they were more than enough! There were twelve basketfuls left over!

Are you in a situation where the circumstances are so much bigger than what you can handle? Have you taken time to consider what you have already? As you look at your inventory list, ask yourself, where is Jesus in this? What is it he wants to do? What is the opportunity here? 

Recently I heard a message by Tim Addington along these lines. He asked three questions we would be wise to ask daily - not just when we find ourselves in crazy-difficult circumstances:

Where is God calling me? Is there an area of my life he has been talking to me about? Is there something he's trying to say? Is there an invitation today or in these circumstances? 

What is in your hand? This hearkens back to Exodus 3 and God's call to Moses and his doubts that he could lead the people out of Egypt. God told him to look at what he had in his hand - his staff - and how with God it could become a snake. Jesus told the disciples to look at what was in their hands too.

What do you have? What is with you? Take an inventory of what's in your hand.

What will you do in response? You can argue with God (Moses). You can doubt God (the disciples, Zechariah). Or you can trust God even if you aren't sure what he's going to do (Mary). In the end, God wants our hearts. He delights when we trust him and say yes to him even if we feel weak and unable. That wry smile I imagine on Jesus' face, what will he/she do? becomes a broad smile of joy when we say yes to him! 

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