Wilderness Dining

This past sunday we considered that story where Jesus feeds five thousand families from one small lunch. I was thinking about how prepared that one kid was. He must have some good parents who sent him out into the wilderness with a good lunch packed.

I was also, then, thinking about the choice all those other families made to keep tracking Jesus and his disciples out into the wilderness. I wonder if any families had already turned back…”It’s getting late, there’s no dinner out here. Let’s go home.” Of course there’s no sin in that decision. It’s actually probably sensible, and yet they missed one of Jesus’ most memorable miracles. But they avoided the anxiety of wondering…will we get to eat tonight?”

I feel like I have had moments like that in my life. I can remember a couple of key decisions: there’s a sensible choice and a gamble. Of course there’s no virtue in a gamble just for the thrill of it; and theres no wisdom in irresponsible risk. But these memories are not that. These were moments kind of like I’m imagining those families might have had. I could go back, and know what I’ll get…or I could follow Jesus out there. No guarantees on what Jesus will do… but it could be cool.

In any gamble, of course, there is cost. The families that followed Jesus further into the wilderness risked a meal. Pretty small risk I suppose. But I have found that lots of good things start small. We talked about how all four of the Gospels mention this story. I think that may be because so many people witnessed it…also, what happened to all those people? Were they able to keep following the way of Jesus? I imagine, when that small gamble paid off, they ate their fill, some of the families began to risk more on the provision of Jesus. I can’t wait to hear stories from those families one day. What does your life look like when you’ve experienced the provision of Jesus so tangibly?

One principle from the parable of Jesus that has come up a lot for me over the years: he who is faithful with a few things will be faithful with much. As opportunities to follow Jesus present themselves, I try to take the ones I can. I have found, at times, small opportunities can lead to larger ones. Not every time. But for me, some of the coolest experiences I have had come from walking out into some unknowns, because sometimes Jesus really surprises!

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