Today is a windy day where I live, and to be honest, I’ve never really liked wind. It might be from my days of teaching, where it seemed like all the wind energy instantly transferred into all the students in a way that didn’t make for the best day of attentive learning. Maybe it stems from all the windy days in southern California that are really hot and dry at the same time, making your skin feel parched and causing the elevated concern of raging fires. Whatever the reason, it’s never been my favorite weather.
But I do remember years ago, getting out of my car on a very windy day after teaching and bringing my daughter home from school, when my view of wind changed. Walking headfirst into the heavy winds toward our front door, I said, “Ahh, I hate the wind,” to which my then ten-year-old daughter quickly responded, “Really? I like windy days. They remind me of God’s spirit, that he’s right here with us.” I had no words to respond back that could argue that point. (Sidebar: never underestimate the wise words God might give a child!) I was convicted right there of my negative attitude and of the fact that even in the things I may not like, when things feel like a heavy push against a strong wind, he is right there, and he is what matters.
So, this week, in my efforts to stay connected with God, I found the wind to be a beautiful reminder of his presence in all things, especially in the things that seem hard, the times when we say statements like these:
There’s no way I can (fill in the blank with the hard thing). It’s just too much.
I’m not good enough at (fill in the blank).
I’m not smart enough to (fill in the blank).
So and so does (fill in the blank) so much better than I ever could.
I really want to (fill in the blank with the dream you have) but I’m afraid of (failing, embarrassing myself, being rejected, or anything else).
The little bit I could do to help (fill in the blank with the person or situation) would never be enough.
I could write pages of all the things we might say or have said at some point that essentially say “I’m not enough.” Fortunately, God is.
Last week I spent some time reflecting on passages in Matthew and Luke that remind me of who Jesus is. If you’re desiring some closeness with Jesus, read them. His love and desire to help us speak loud and clear in these passages: Luke 8:40-48 “Jesus Heals in Response to Faith”, Matthew 8:1-3 “Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy”, and Matthew 8:23-27 “Jesus Calms the Storm.”
After reading these, I realized these passages give these three reminders of who Jesus is:
· He’s the one who sees you and makes you whole.
· He’s the one who comes near to you.
· He’s the one who calms your storms.
Then at my church this Sunday, the gospel reading was Matthew 14:13-21, commonly known as “The Feeding of the 5,000,” and on the following day, the focus of the prayer I listened to on the Lectio365 App was Mark 6:30-44, which is the same “Feeding of the 5,000” story in the gospel of Mark. I took the repeated hearing of this story as a hint to spend more time in it, knowing that when a verse or passage from the Bible is placed in front of me repeatedly, it likely means God wants me to pay more attention to it.
In this case, I think it might have been that this story is such a familiar one. It’s one of those stories that’s told often, and because of its familiarity, the freshness and magnitude of it can fade. I know I need to look at it with fresh eyes to see something I forgot or missed in the past. So, I spent time reading it in each of the four gospels, looking at it with fresh eyes, expecting to see something new, and sure enough, something caught my attention. What most struck me was the account in John 6: 1-13, the only one where the young boy is mentioned.
One small section particularly caught my attention. John 6: 8-9 says, “Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
“But what good is that ….” Those are the words that hit me. Suddenly I remembered all the moments, with certain recent situations, and in the past, when I’ve wondered the very same thing. I’ve said, “What good is ……? And usually the ending has something to do with my inability to accomplish something that seems too hard or too big or too scary. Those are words that will keep me, if I let them, from doing the things I might be called to do. I can feel too inadequate, insufficient, afraid. Truth is, it’s not actually about me anyway. It’s about God. With him, I can do the thing, if he wants me to do it. If not, it won’t happen because he has a better plan and no matter what, his plan is always best.
In studying this story in John and the time in which it took place, I also learned that barley was considered a simple food, fit more for animals than people, and the fish were also thought to be very small, all indicating that the boy was likely from a poor family. Knowing this, I see that his willingness to share the little bit he had was an act of great generosity, and I think also of trust. He wasn’t afraid to give what little he had to Jesus. He trusted him with it.
I wonder, am I like that? Am I taking all those seemingly little, insufficient and inadequate offerings of mine and entrusting them to Jesus? I’m going to think about that the rest of this week, and each time I feel those “I’m not enough” or “I don’t have enough” thoughts, I’m going to remember WHO HE IS.
· He’s the one who is enough.
After reading the story of feeding the 5,000 in John, I continued reading, and as I did, I stopped after this:
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” John 6: 29
That’s it. Just believe. I don’t have to perform perfectly. I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to accomplish the task in front of me. I only need to give it to him and he will accomplish even more than I can imagine.
So, how about you? Is there something you feel you’re supposed to do that seems too difficult? Or is there a seemingly impossible situation you’re facing that you didn’t choose and you don’t know how to make it better? If so, you’re not alone. The good news is that Jesus is in it with you. He can help. Pray about it, and give it to him.
Maybe the problem isn’t one you’re facing. Maybe it’s someone you care about who’s struggling in some way. Remember that a prayer from you is powerful. God cares about those we love even more than we do. He can help. He wants us to reach out and trust him with the burden.
Staying Connected to God Tips for the Week:
· Read the passages listed in this post and pay attention to what stands out to you. Picture Jesus speaking the same messages to you that you read in his word, reminding you that he sees you and will help you, reminding you to have faith in him, reminding you to go and do the thing he wants you to do with him at your side.
· Which aspects of who Jesus is touch you most, speak to what you are seeking right now? Write down the verses that show these aspects of his character, place them where you can easily see or read them again.
I pray you can remember all the things Jesus is this week, and that this will help you know who you can count on and trust in every situation you face. Have a blessed week with the one who is enough alongside you, whether in the heavy wind or the gentle breeze. He is enough.