The disciple’s response to their present opportunity to meet significant human need was anemic and short sighted. From their own human reasoning, they “put a pencil to it” and “took inventory,” only to discover that their resources were inadequate. They were operating from an economy of scarcity. Jesus, who was always patient with their progress on a sometimes steep learning curve, demonstrated for them how to respond to big time opportunities.
John 6:10-13 continues the story, “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves (NLT).
All the disciples could envision was scarcity and inadequacy. The good news of the gospel is that God is abundant! Jesus took the simple lunch from a small boy and blessed it, broke it, and distributed it. The result? Everyone ate until they were satisfied and 12 baskets of scraps were left over.
Like you, I have a couple of pet peeves. (If you talk to my wife she’ll argue that I’ve surpassed two, but that’s another story!) Every time I hear someone say, “God won’t ask you to do more than you can handle,” I want to cringe. Think about it for a minute. Isn’t that the point of God? Isn’t God in the business of putting us in situations and circumstances that are beyond our own resources and capacities in order to demonstrate His power and glory?
When God wanted to start a new nation through which he could bless the world, where did He begin? He took two centurions, Abraham and Sarah, and told them they would have a child.
When God wanted to deliver two and a half million Israelite slaves from the oppressive servitude of Pharaoh, to whom did he turn for a deliverer? An 80 year old man named Moses.
When God desired to deliver his people from their enemies in Philistia, led by a 9’6” giant named Goliath, who did He call? A 5’9” 17 year old wet behind the ears harp strummer with nothing in his arsenal but a sling shot.
Of course God calls us to do more than we are capable of! The story of the Bible, in part, is a story of a God who calls the incompetent and incapable to do impossible things through divine enablement so that the name of God is enlarged.
Don’t let your inadequacy become an excuse. God is abundant!