surprising joys from fish and bread

I love the many unexpected blessings of the Lord and how His grace desires to give us more than we could ever ask or imagine!

I had been thinking lately (not ardently-on-my-knees praying, just kind of thinking in the back of my brain) about several seemingly unrelated areas like
*recognizing the need for me to start journaling again during my quiet times
*feeling somewhat disgruntled at the things I want to do but cannot because I am constantly with little ones that can’t take care of themselves (rotten, yes I know!)
*fretting this upcoming year of homeschooling challenges like schedules and curricullums to use and questioning if I even would/could be able to teach the girls effectively

But all of these things were just sort of stirring in the back of my mind and weighing on my heart without much action on my part to actually address them.

And then this morning, something huge happened that addressed all three of these pressing areas. I was just about to put off journaling one more day because I was already settled, cozy and comfy, in my chair with a steaming big cup of coffee and I didn’t want to get up and go find my journal, buried somewhere in a drawer by my bed. I’ll find it later today, I reasoned, and then tomorrow I will start. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.

Well it didn’t work out that way and am I ever glad that my plans were thwarted. Rob called for me to help him with something in the bedroom, so I had to get up and go back to the room where my journal had rested dormant without any activity for such a long time. I couldn’t NOT pull it out of hiding now. So I brought it back to my chair, wondering if I would even be able to come up with something to write about since I knew I was going to be reading just another old and familiar Jesus story in the book of Matthew. Now I should know by now there is nothing “old-and-familiar” when it comes to the living and active word of God, but I was in one of my hardened heart-moods and feeling unteachable. But thanks be to God that He isn’t hindered by my poor begrudging attitude and He still did the impossible in regards to my state of mind this morning.

I am not sure how many times I have heard the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand with only five loaves of bread and two fish, but today I received those words as fresh and new. And an absolutely incredible application was revealed FOR ME (I have to say that in a way that stands out to readers because, again, this insight was FOR ME. And while others can maybe take something away for themselves, I am in no way shape or form secretly holding anyone accountable for what touched MY heart today. I know that God doesn’t have the same plans for each of us. So with that said, I’ll dive into what God called to MY attention today…)

These are the verses from Matthew 14:13-21 that I wrote about in my journal. When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

I was first drawn to the part about the inadequacy the disciples most certainly felt when Jesus told them to feed the 5,000 people with just a few bits of bread and fish. So often when I look at the Lord’s callings through my own eyes, I can somewhat relate to the disciples’ awareness of their own meagerness and I feel overwhelmed by many things the Lord places on my heart. And the first area that immediately came to mind while reading this morning was God’s call for OUR FAMILY to educate our girls at home. Because when I look at this through my own abilities and limited resources, it is indeed a daunting thing. And even though I don’t doubt that calling, I do often feel the heavy weight of the responsibility it entails and am easily dismayed. But it was the feeding-the-five-thousand verses that helped put my fears in proper perspective. When the disciples looked at Jesus’ command to feed the all those people, they looked at their own means and ability and thought ‘no way!’ But with God, nothing is impossible. He will equip those He has called (and not necessarily always call the equipped). It was after Jesus gave thanks and broke the bread when God did His wonders. And so for me, one application was to know that when the task of teaching and training my own children seems overwhelming and at times downright impossible, I need to remember the outcome of this story. After my offering up thankfulness that God has given me the responsibility to raise these precious girls and being broken by God for this task, I can be part of the hand of God in ‘feeding’ my own children sufficiently when I trust in God to do it.

That was application number one.

Interestingly the application I saw first was in the second part of the story, and the second application I saw actually came when I re-read the first part of the story. With me? Anyways, I think God first needed me to see that my inadequacy mattered not in the big scheme of His ability to provide. And when I am overwhelmed about what it requires of time and patience and diligence to educate our kids at home, I need to fall back on the knowledge I have of God’s provision and know that He will equip me as a parent to carry out the responsibility of raising His children. Because when I have that first part down, any other lingering selfishness and desires for me-time that would tempt me to throw in the towel because ‘it is just too hard’ won’t have such a strong foothold on me. The first part of this story makes note that Jesus had plans of His own, He desired time alone and was seeking to make that happen. And Like Jesus, I can relate on both of those points. I too have my own plans and I want time for me (can I get an ‘amen sister’ from my fellow moms!) But what struck me is Jesus’ response when His plans were interrupted (which is not like me…). “He was moved with compassion for them” When my plans are interrupted or when I start thinking I won’t be able to do what I want to do because I am at home all the time, it was convicting and yet refreshing to look at Jesus’ response and see the compassion He had to heal and feed the people. God has blessed me with children who are also desperately needing to be healed and fed and they are looking for me to do that. Oh that my heart would be filled with compassion and that I would see the wonderful magnitude of the fact that God can and will equip me with His strength, He will work in me a love that leads to the action that will ‘heal and feed’ them. Jesus set His own desires aside for the sake of others. And how precious are those ‘others’ in my life. How can I not follow in Jesus’ example.

So those were three wonderful joys of my morning. I know not every journaling experience will produce such results, but to think what I might be missing out on when I don’t allow time to really process and meditate on what the Lord can reveal through His word. I have new motivation to persevere with journaling AND on the path of homeschooling. For that I am grateful!

In case you are interested, here is a little bit more on what I believe whole-heartedly as the conviction/calling from the Lord on OUR FAMILY to educate our children at home. The verses that God used to clearly put this plan for OUR FAMILY on hearts was from Deuteronomy 6:4-7. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. ‘And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. The words ‘diligently teach your children’ carried much weight because they immediately followed the greatest command in the whole Bible. I saw how the theme of time was woven into verse seven with the whens and hows of what diligently teaching involves. And God made it clear (to me) that the most effective way (for Rob and me) to make much of these verses (with my family) was to spend as much time in the presence of my girls; teaching them God’s word and His truths, making known God’s love and His commands, discipling them in character traits, instilling in them a heart to serve others… On and on the list continued, all requiring lots and lots of time. And I was burdened with the realization that all the time being away at school would mean time lost to teaching them diligently. Then on the flip side by having them at home, much much much more could be taught to them using God as the center and basis for all the knowledge they are to obtain (because “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” Prov 1:7) And so in countless ways, this is the route God has shown OUR FAMILY to follow, to best honor the verses in Deuteronomy. And please don’t miss that I said ‘our family’ and ‘me’ and ‘my’ again and again. It is what He put into Rob and my hearts to do. Just like God might use the verse from James 1:27 concerning orphans to give someone a heart to adopt from China or the verses at the end of Matthew to make disciples as a way to prompt someone to travel overseas and do mission work, this is OUR prompting and I know not every family will have the same.

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2 Responses to surprising joys from fish and bread

  1. jvanvleet says:

    And to quote another blogger who just posted God’s calling on their life and education of their kids (which is proof that He works differently in each of us) “He is kinda in charge here so I just do as he says”

    her post is here

  2. halim9191 says:

    Joanna – I love your perspective on your calling from the Lord and love Jamie’s perspective on her calling from the Lord. I am glad that He has different plans for each of us – I look forward to being totally clear on the calling that He has for my family :)

    Yay for journaling – I hope He does teach you great things each and every day in your journaling time.

    Angela :)

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