In recent years, my husband and I decided to not buy into all the hype around Christmas. Our gifts are simple and sometimes we order in Chinese food the day before Christmas for our Christmas dinner. But despite our efforts, with church activities, community commitments and, and, and … it is easy to look toward heaven and say “how can I possibly do all this, Lord? I am running on two fish and five loaves here. There is not enough of me to go around.” Ah, the point exactly. There is not enough of me to go around. And when I am concentrating on what I am not, what I need, what I have to do or be, it is not possible to go into the Holiday Season with a grateful heart, is it?
This year I have been very fortunate to receive various invitations to teach and share my gifts in writing, storytelling and dance. My tendency is to try to answer all requests with yes and to do everything at one point in time. Because most of what I do is based on being able to make up a dance, a class curriculum or a story, I tend to disregard the amount of time it takes me to put these things together. Then I can end up throwing my hands in the air in defeat and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work each endeavor takes individually, not to mention the accumulation of many projects. With the addition of the holiday “gotta do stuff,” I can become fearful that I can’t do it all well, and sometimes that I can’t do anything at all.
During one of my more panicked weekends, one of my pastors at church gave a sermon that really hit home. I want to share with you some of Pastor Peter’s points mixed in with my own revelations in this blog entry because I hope they will be meaningful and useful for others too.
Pastor’s sermon centered around one of the times Jesus was teaching to several thousand people. If you wish to read the story it is in the Gospel of John 6:1-14. The day moved on towards eating time. When Jesus asked the apostles how they would feed the people Phillip, one of the apostles said, “Well we don’t have enough money to buy bread for everyone.” Notice here the we don’t have enough focus.
But Andrew, another apostle, said, “Look, here is a lad with two fish and five loaves of bread.” Now the focus is on what we do have. The apostle totally expected Jesus to turn that into enough. Then and now Jesus will not disappoint me, but I have to do my part.
First, I have to sit down. That was what the Lord said after Andrew told him about the fish and the bread, “Have the people sit down.” In my world this means the Lord is saying, “Sit with me, relax, I have it under control. I will take care of this, but you have to first sit and be willing to watch and listen and accept my answer, whether it be yes or no.” This is not easy for me with my go, go, go, do, do, do mentality. (Surely if I were a child today, someone would assign an unpleasant acronym to me and I would be supplied with handfuls of pharmaceuticals).
Second, instead of concentrating on what I do not have, I need to look at what I have been given. I have been gifted with some pretty wonderful things (and so have you my friends). I need to thank God for these gifts every day and not just one day of the year. It is important I share these out of a grateful heart, not obligation. Commitment versus compliance. Otherwise, sharing my gifts becomes a chore and I am anything but joyful.
Third, I need to acknowledge that I have limitations, present those to the Lord and then see what He will do. This is the tricky part because sometimes I take it all on me. It is my responsibility and I don’t stop and pray before accepting every opportunity to say yes. I don’t want anyone to know that I am only human and have limitations and weaknesses. But God says, no, no, no. In your weakness is my strength. One of my weaknesses is to always say yes. God has the answers and if I ask and listen, He will give me the definite “Go” or share with me the strength to say “No.”
Sounds simple huh? Just have to sit with God, present my little fish and loaves and then honestly expect Him to do what He wants with these. Discerning when to say yes and when not to is the hardest part, especially when I am too busy to sit, ask and listen. And it is impossible when I look at my life as two little fish and five loaves only, convinced “I” must find a way. Sometimes God just flat says no and does not give me what I need to bring about whatever it is I think needs to be done.
I saw this play out only a few weeks ago. I said no to doing something someone asked me to do after I had already said yes and then realized there was just no way I could accomplish this. I felt very guilty about it. The assignment was offered to another person. She stepped up and said she was just waiting for an opportunity like this to serve. She was excited, grateful, took on the challenge and did a wonderful job with it. Is it possible someone else might have been meant to receive the blessing of serving in that capacity?
As busy as life is and as tempted as I am to do everything on my own, I often find myself overwhelmed. I am learning, thank you Pastor Peter, to take myself to the lap of my loving father, bring my fish and loaves and then expect Him to do great things or accept it when He does not. If only I can remember this simple step. I can then sit back, bring out the tartar sauce and jelly, and just wait for the surprise of what He is going to do with what I have given back to him. So important that I offer to God and others out of gratitude and a heart that says, “I only have this, Lord. It is yours. Do with it as you will.” Amen? Amen.
Copyright November 2011
Lakewood, CO 80401
Connect with me, Laura Padgett, on Twitter @lauraleepadgett or my Facebook Author Page
Check out the books I have published
“Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers. If you live in the U.S. and would like an autographed copy sent directly to you, click on the tab for buying books on my home page
The award-winning “Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Shorts Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments,” available now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you live in the U.S. and would like an autographed copy sent directly to you, click on the tab for buying books on my home page. I will ship it to you after your purchase.