But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” (Luke 9:13)
When I first started seminary three years ago, I stumbled across a phrase that hit me hard. So hard, in fact, that I wrote it down and taped it to my laptop where I would always be sure to see it. I don’t even remember now where I read it. But “unreservedly available” became my motto, even though I had no idea what that looked like in practice. I still don’t have a clear picture, and in many ways I’m struggling to understand exactly what those words could and do mean for me.
In Luke Chapter 9, the gospel writer tells the story of Jesus preaching to a crowd of five thousand in a small town called Bethsaida. Jesus spent the entire day telling them about the Kingdom of God, as well as healing the sick. It started getting late, though, and the people were going to need a meal. The twelve disciples urged Jesus to send the people away to find something on their own. There were just too many to feed in such a desolate place.
But, Jesus didn’t send them away. Instead, he told his disciples to feed them with what they had available: five loaves and two fish. It wasn’t much—and the disciples couldn’t begin to see how this would end well—but Jesus took what they had, looked up to heaven, and said a blessing over the food. Then he instructed the twelve to hand out the food to the five thousand. I imagine them looking at each other in stunned disbelief.
Especially when there were twelve baskets of food left over.
When I think about being unreservedly available, I’m like the disciples. Um, see… it’s like this, God. I have limited resources at my disposal. It’s a huge world with a lot of pain, suffering, and need. I really don’t see how I can do anything to make the situation noticeably better.
That’s when God said to me, re-read your motto. God is asking two things of me and neither one is to solve all the problems of the world. God is asking me to: 1) Bring everything I have to him. Don’t hold anything back. Bring it all and show him what I have. 2) Make all those things, strengths, ideas, love, and empathy… everything I have… make it all available to him. And with his authority and the abundance of his provisions, God will magnify it for his use.
I just need to make it all—myself included—unreservedly available.
God, thank you so much for your guidance. Help us to listen for your voice, have the courage to act on your direction, and the faith to know that you will guide us in love to the ultimate benefit of all. In your Son’s name we come to you, Amen.