I really like paradoxes, and I always appreciate how our view of things is usually completely opposite of the way God sees it and knows it to be true. Realizing that God’s view is more liberating and freeing than ours is always a refreshing awakening. An example of this comes from John 6:1-15 when Jesus feeds five thousand men. That statement alone is impressive, given that Jesus’ trade is carpentry and not the culinary arts, and it leaps out even more when you consider what he had to work with: five loaves of bread and two fish.
So here’s Jesus and the disciples with the equivalent of an Israeli Lunchable. This is where the key differential comes in. The disciples look at what they have and see scarcity. Jesus looks at it and sees abundance. The disciples’ skepticism would only accomplish sitting there hungry. Christ’s optimism brings about service to the people in a miraculous way that moves them to belief. Cool story. Great. What does this have to do with us? Everything.
You see, we’re really good at convincing ourselves we don’t have anything to offer people. We say, “We just can’t really afford to do X or Y at the moment,” while we’re simultaneously paying off our DirecTV bill and putting down payments on a house and two cars. Tell me how that adds up. “We’re going to have to cut back on giving this year,” and then turn around and tell people what our vacation plans are for the summer. I don’t get it.
There’s a guy here in Searcy named Charlie who lives on a disability check. He’s a few years older than me, and we go out to lunch once a week. He always double-checks if we’re going to Subway on Thursday, and the answer is always yes. (We’re on the Jared diet…get excited.) He helps me realize I will always have money for that even while I’m trying to convince myself otherwise. He enables me to see that saying “no, I can’t afford it” would always be a lie. Rapidly becoming my favorite Proverb is 3:27-28: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow’—when you now have it with you.” God makes it very clear that as long as there is money in my checking account, Thursdays at Subway can (and should) happen.
It’s up to us: view what we have as sufficient or inadequate. We pray for provision when we already have what we need. For example, if a mission trip costs $1,200 in expenses, and you have $1,275 in your bank account, what is going to be coming out of your mouth? “God’s opened a door,” or, “I can’t go on the trip because I don’t have the money.” That latter response is synonymous with “I’m scared to flirt with bankruptcy.” Yeah, Heaven forbid you wouldn’t have any money. Then you might actually have to, you know…rely on God for what you need. That’d be awful…