Holy Muliplication

“There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” – John 6:9

Woven into the fabric of creation is this powerful truth: God multiplies what we give.

Consider a single apple seed. No bigger than a ladybug. And yet, if you plant that seed in the ground and it’s graced with good soil, sunshine and sufficient water it’ll grow into an apple tree that can produce thousands of apples, each containing seeds that can grow in to apple trees that can produce thousands of apples, each containing seeds that can grow…well, you get the point. Immeasurable apples from a single seed.

This “holy multiplication” is found in the story of the feeding of the 5,000 in John’s Gospel (John 6:1-13). All the disciples could see was endless need and scarce resources, and so they threw up their hands in surrender. But a little boy gave what he had – a few biscuits and a couple of herring. He faithfully lived into the wisdom once articulated by tennis star Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” And when we do that faithfully, God often multiplies it in amazing ways.

How often do we see endless need and scarce resources and, like the disciples, throw up our hands in surrender? How often do we fail to start where we are, use what we have and do what we can, trusting God to do the rest?

Hurricanes destroy homes and disrupt lives, but what difference could my $10 make? And so, we do nothing.

A friend is lost in grief, but what difference could my meager words of consolation and simple presence make? And so, we do nothing.

The local homeless shelter needs volunteers, but what difference could my one hour of service make? And so, we do nothing.

And all the while we, like the disciples, forget that woven into the fabric of creation is this powerful truth: God multiplies what we give.

Sometimes God multiplies what we give in miraculous ways, ways we just can’t explain, like he did in the story of the feeding of the 5,000. But more often I find that God multiplies what we give when together we give what we can, and together it adds up to a lot. Want to see an example? Watch this.

Today I challenge you to find a need and choose to start where you are, use what you have and do what you can. Maybe all you have is a few biscuits and a couple of herring. Give it anyway. See how God multiplies it.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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