Anne Herridge

Sharing God's heart through poetry, prose and prayer

Loaves and Fish


We may not fit in. We may not feel as if we have much to give to the world, but God can take our five loaves and two fish and multiply them to bless thousands!

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

You may have heard of Temple University in Philadelphia. There is an interesting story surrounding its origin which dates back to 1886. A little girl named Hattie May Wiatt lived near a church where the Sunday school was very overcrowded due to limited space. As a result, she was not always able to attend. The pastor encouraged her that one day they would have a building large enough to have room for everyone who wanted to attend. Some time later, Hattie became ill and passed away. At her funeral, her mother told the pastor that Hattie had been saving money to help buy a larger church building. She gave him Hattie’s little purse which contained the money she had carefully saved. It was a total of 57 cents.

The pastor had the money turned into pennies and told his congregation Hattie’s story, then sold each of the pennies. Some church members used the pennies to form the Wiatt Mite Society, with the goal of making them grow so that Hattie’s dream could become reality. Donations began to come in and they received a return of around $250 which enabled the church to purchase a nearby house for church use with a larger Sunday school capacity. The first classes of Temple College, which later became Temple University, Philadelphia were held there. The house was later sold so that Temple College could move and grow into Temple University and the Temple University Hospital which is still there today. What a powerful testimony to a little girl’s dream!

God loves to do big things through small people like Hattie May. He also loves to use small offerings. Jesus praised a poor widow who put all she had into the temple offering. She gave a few copper coins, worth only a few cents, yet worth everything to her and so much more to God! (Mark 12: 41-44)

In Matthew 14:13-21 we find the story of the boy who offered his simple lunch of five barley loaves and two fish to Jesus who fed over 5000 people with it!

These accounts teach us that we never have too little to offer. We may not fit in. We may not feel as if we have much to give to the world, but God can take the equivalent of our 57 cents, or our five loaves and two fish and multiply them to bless thousands! Whether we give practical offerings such as the widow and the boy, or our gifts, talents and time, God is delighted when we give what we have, however small or insignificant it may seem to us.

Personally, I have always been a bit of a ‘misfit’ and fairly average! Growing up, my mum frequently pointed out when looking over school reports or dance exam results, that I was “just average” (which was fine to me because this average child knew she was loved!) Sometimes as an adult though, I wish I was more than average, and it is in these moments that God reminds me that I simply need to offer my ‘average’ to Him and He will do the rest! Instead of waiting for God to give us a certain gift or more smarts, more wealth or a unique opportunity, we start with what we have.

It is an act of faith for us, just as it was for the disciples when Jesus asked them to give out the loaves and fish to the hungry crowds. Can you imagine how they must have felt when he asked that of them? Awkward? Full of doubt? God cannot use what we haven’t offered. He cannot multiply what we haven’t given. The blessing of our gifts often comes after we have offered them in a step of faith. The bread the disciples handed out was only multiplied as they gave it, not beforehand. Jesus blessed and broke the loaves then gave them to his disciples to distribute. Only then did they eat and were satisfied, leaving twelves baskets of leftovers!

I once heard the story of a woman who hosted a Bible study group at her home. One day she spontaneously invited the group to stay for lunch. Once in the kitchen however, she realized that she actually did not have enough bread for the number of guests. Slightly embarrassed, she prayed and asked God to bless the half loaf of bread that she did have and the simple lunch she was putting together. In faith she started to cut pieces of bread and just kept cutting. To her amazement the loaf did not run out. Somehow there was plenty of bread for everyone and even some leftover despite not having a full loaf to begin with and a large group to feed!

Jesus told another story about the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) in which a man who was going on a journey called his servants and entrusted his assets to them. To one he gave five talents (a large sum of money), to another two talents, and to another one talent, giving to each according to their ability. On his return, he assessed the stewardship of his servants based on the investments they had made with his assets, and rewarded each of them accordingly. The first two servants invested their talents and doubled them. The other servant played it safe by burying his talent out of fear and wasting the opportunity he had been given.

Jesus has made us stewards of the world and left us to promote his Kingdom here on earth. He has given ‘talents’ to each of us according to our ability. What we have is appropriate for us! Rather than living in fear and burying the talents we have, we can have confidence that we can step out in faith, trusting him to use the gifts we offer however small or different to others.

Only when we give God the opportunity will he do the impossible! Whatever we give, God will multiply! Only he knows what he can do with our offerings!

There is a quote on my wall calendar this month by St Francis of Assissi which reads, “Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

I believe it is God who does the impossible, but he calls us to start with what is necessary. What are your loaves and fish? What talents have you been given? It is enough. You are enough! I encourage you to give God the opportunity to bless and multiply what you have to offer! Let me know in the comments section below how he has used what you offered and multiplied what you gave, and how he did the impossible with your gifts when you stepped out in faith!

PRAYER: Father God, thank you for giving me enough. For making me enough. Help me not to compare myself to others,but to be thankful for the unique gifts and talents you have given me. Forgive me if I have hidden or buried my talents. I choose today to step out in faith and offer them to you. Take what I have Lord and bless it to others and the world to enhance your Kingdom and bring you the glory! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

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