I am writing this week’s post for all of us with empty baskets. Empty energy baskets, empty emotional baskets, empty financial baskets, empty patience baskets, empty make-dinner-and-care-for-my-kids baskets, empty able-to-deal-with-one-more-thing-baskets.
For close to a year now, we have been steadily serving out of our baskets. But, if we are honest, many of us are weary. And, many of our baskets are empty or they are carrying crumbs that feel as though they could be swept away by the wind at any moment.
Especially in these times, I think one of the most precious qualities about the Bible is that it is the “living Word.” It does not apply only to first century life, instead, it follows us. It follows us in the here and now to our present, tired, empty-basket circumstances and gives us hope and direction. Let’s see how it may encourage us today:
12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” 13 He replied, “You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” 14 (About five thousand men were there.)
But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
This message of Jesus feeding the five thousand is familiar to many of us. But, in this time when many of our baskets feel so very empty, I want to make sure we notice a few things:
- Jesus will always care about other people more than we can. This is not a knock against us, but instead, a statement of freedom. When we say to Him that we don’t have enough energy, enough money, or enough strength, He can make a way. Your empty baskets do not limit His ability to love those you are trying to “feed.” Stop shaming yourself for not having enough or being enough and instead, watch for how He will provide.
- Jesus is happy to use you even when you didn’t have enough. After the disciples said they couldn’t do it, He didn’t say, “You disciples are worthless. Just get out of My way and watch Me work.” Instead, He listened to them, fixed the problem, and then reengaged them for the miracle. Don’t take yourself out of the game just because you couldn’t do it on your own. Watch for Him to invite you back in.
- Jesus did not just fill the disciples’ food baskets that day. He filled their faith baskets, their energy baskets, their confidence baskets, their hope baskets — and He filled them to excess. But, this only happened after the disciples acknowledged, “We are out. We can’t do it.” If you are out, admit it. Jesus is neither fooled nor honored by us trying to white-knuckle this life on our own. Hand over your empty baskets so He can refill them in His way.
“Lord, As 2021 has emerged, with many of the same burdens as 2020 plus some — here’s our baskets. They are splintered, frayed, and worn slick on the handle by our efforts to continue to serve out of our own strength. We give them to you now. We ask that You fill them. And then, we ask for the strength to pick them back up without shame, fear, or intimidation. You delight in giving us more loaves and fishes Lord, no matter how many times we run out. Thank you for the ways you fill us and love us.”