“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, ‘This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!’” (Matthew 14:14-16, NASB)
When we get the big picture, when we know what God is about (God’s purposes in the world, his kingdom agenda, a biblical worldview) it gives us Perspective and a compass with which to set our course for life, prayer and ministry. The more we live by faith, the better we understand God’s thinking.
What I mean is, as we continue to saturate our lives with God’s words and live our lives in obedience to him and his words, we are changed little by little. The more or less of the changes in us is probably in direct proportion to our faith in and obedience to God (John 14:21). And some of it could be related to how much we are paying attention to what we are experiencing, in other words, our intentionality in our lives with the Lord.
As an example, about the time they got the news of John’s beheading, the disciples had just concluded a mission trip of touring the cities and villages of Israel in teams of two. Not only did they preach, but Jesus had conferred on them the power to heal and cast out demons, obviously directed at big problems in the country. Jesus listened to their post-trip reports and advised they all go away for a while to rest. This had been exhausting work. Enter the needy crowds (Mark 6:7, 12-13, 27-29, 30-32, 33-34).
Now think of it, the disciples had been casting out demons and healing people! Jesus gave them that power. It was very specific. Yet it didn’t seem to occur to the disciples that he could, should he so desire, give them similar powers to meet other needs. They never thought of it to ask him.
I’ve seen God to amazing things in my own life, not to mention in others’ lives. I raise my hand and profess to believe with all my heart in the power of God to do the impossible. I’ve heard scores of wonderful believers quote their favorite passage: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,” (Ephesians 3:20), and believe with all their hearts that there is supernatural power “that works within us.”
I’ve seen this power at work, though it isn’t always as dramatic as what I envision the casting out of a demon would be. But it has been every bit as real and miraculous an act of God in answer to prayer.
However, that doesn’t mean I always transfer that knowledge to the next moment when I come up against an impassable wall, when I am stopped cold in my tracks by a gargantuan need I know I cannot meet. Just like the disciples didn’t connect their recent experience of God’s power given to them to heal and cast out demons, to the present moment when they saw thousands of hungry people who needed food.
So, having said all that (in my last three posts), what could have been the next “paragraph” in the disciples’ request to Jesus as they scrambled for a solution to the need of thousands of hungry people? By implication, what might be our next words to God in prayer as we encounter insurmountable needs?
Jesus had granted the disciples the ability to cast out demons and heal. Might he also grant them the power to feed thousands of people, especially when he told them to feed the crowd (Matt. 14:16)? It’s worth the asking.
“Jesus, um, we have a big problem. We’ve checked and we don’t have the money to buy enough food to feed all these people, and we don’t have the food on hand, only enough for one child. But we recall you have power to take care of big things and it seems to us this is not too big for you. In fact, you gave us power to heal and cast out demons just a while back so we were thinking, if you want to give us the power to somehow feed these thousands, we’re ready. We’re up for the challenge! Just say the word, Jesus, and we’ll do whatever you say.”
I will always ask God’s mind on an issue, and when I am certain it is something he approves, I want to have the boldness to say, “Jesus, um, we have a big problem … but I know you have the power to take care of big things … you have given us power to do “greater things” and I’m up for the challenge! Just say the word, Jesus, and I’ll do whatever you say.”
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20, 21).
Scriptures quoted from NASB www.lockman.org