Thursday, January 17, 2013

Trusting in Abundance

I have to be honest: I've been worrying about money lately. The smart part of my brain knows that my finances are in good shape, but the part that goes around in circles when I'm trying to sleep at night still comes up with plenty of terrible scenarios where I can't make ends meet. This week my dog had an unexpected trip to the vet and may need to start thyroid medication. I still want to remodel my upstairs bathroom. I'm planning to cut back my work hours when I start my Masters' program in June. And the reality of my new car payment is starting to sink in.

In the middle of all of this, Heifer International called to say that they didn't meet their holiday donation goals, and could I be generous one more time?

I said yes. I reminded myself that in 2011, I gave more money to charity than in any previous year, and I didn't miss a cent of it. I actually felt like what I gave out came back to me again. There was still plenty left over to pay for what I needed, and enough to get most of what I wanted too.

While I'm lying in my bed at night worrying, there's a small voice in the back of my mind that says, "Trust in abundance. There has always been enough, and there will always be enough."

I have been thinking lately of the story of Jesus and the loaves and fishes. I hadn't read it since childhood, so I re-read it this week. Besides the story of the resurrection, Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand is the only story that appears in all four gospels (don't be too impressed, I got that from Wikipedia when I was trying to locate the passage).

My favorite version of the story is the one in John (6:1-15). Jesus asks the disciples where they will buy bread to feed the crowd who have gathered to hear Him. Phillip protests that it would take more than half a year's wages to give each person even one bite. Then Andrew speaks up- there is a small boy who has five barley loaves and two small fishes. Jesus prays over the food, then breaks it up and distributes it to the crowd, who all eat their fill.

I love this version best because of the young boy. As a child, I had a story book that told this parable from the boy's perspective: his mother sends him off with the loaves and fish for his lunch. Later, when the disciples are wondering how they will feed the hungry crowd, the little boy volunteers his meal and the food is given out to feed the people.

If  you think about it, five loaves and two fish are a big lunch for a little boy. He has plenty to share. When that big lunch gets into the hands of Jesus, it becomes an abundance. Everyone gets plenty to eat and there are 12 baskets of food left over.

That little boy had lots of options for his meal: he could have eaten that huge amount of food by himself. He could have saved some for later. He could have found one or two friends to share it with. But when he chose to turn it over to Jesus, it became a miracle.

I know that I have five loaves and two fish in my hands right now. It's plenty for me, and enough to share some too. I can argue, as Phillip did, that it would cost too much to feed the crowd. Or I can turn some of my abundance over and watch it multiply. I'm pretty sure God is telling me to turn it over- and He made certain I got the message by putting the story in the Gospel four times.

So my resolution this year is to trust in abundance- there is enough for me, enough to share, and enough left over.  When I find myself worrying about bills, I have to remember that there has always been enough, and there will always be enough.

So long for now, and KISS (keep it simple stupid). What will you do with your loaves and fish?

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