If anything can kill the the spirit of worship on a Sunday for me, it’s the details. I woke up with twenty questions running through my head: Are we doing communion? Is someone bringing the coffee? What will happen if it rains? Who is doing welcome?
Sitting there in the backyard-turned-sanctuary, Jesus spoke to me and fed me through our little church plant. A housemate became a herald, leading us through confession with his own heartfelt confession. The wind of the Spirit came through a pastor’s wife and friend. The thoughtful questions of our congregation reminded me that we, too, were known.
You see, when you enter this church planting game, you sometimes forget the most obvious things. The weight of Christ’s congregation can feel crushing and the disparate needs disorienting, especially when you forget they were meant to drive you to the same Savior to which you are earnestly seeking to point them.
Our co-planter was scheduled to teach through the feeding of the five thousand from John 6. I knew because I helped plan the preaching schedule. What I also knew yet needed to remember was that God did not need me. Even though I have taught on John 6 and heard countless sermons on it, the Lord used it to convict and comfort me. For in this new role as the wife of a church planter, I felt more closely aligned to Philip and Andrew. Crowds of hungry bellies. More needs after weeks of meeting needs. Limited resources and depleted disciples.
I cannot imagine Jesus turning to me, like he did to Philip, and saying, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (John 6:5). John gives us helpful commentary, saying, “He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do (John 6:6).
I, like Philip, would have failed the test. I do every week. When the needs arise, I look at our schedule and our bank account, trying to rearrange to find a way for it to be enough. And every week, it is not enough. We are not enough. Sure, we might have bread that feeds mouths in the form of donuts, but we cannot make people eat the bread which leads to eternal life. We can’t fix marriages. We can’t revive hearts. We can neither meet with every member nor meet every need.
But I keep trying. I keep looking on the wrong plane, just like Philip. I keep forgetting that Jesus already has a plan. He knows exactly what he will do with perfect execution in his perfect timing (Isaiah 46:8-10).
He knows what building we will rent. He knows how we will afford it. He knows how to raise up disciples from stones, which is a good thing since I know my own stoney heart and the stoney hearts which sit beside me (Luke 19:40).
He owns it all. It’s all his (Psalm 50: 10-11). More importantly, they are his and I am his (Song of Solomon 2:16).
This whole endeavor is about fanning faith into flame, beginning with my own dimly burning wick (Isaiah 42:3). Yet, I keep missing it. I keep looking at the scarcity in and around me rather than the Savior who offers abundant redemption (Psalm 130:7).
Yet, he keeps taking the crumbs we carry to him and making them into enough. And the One who feed 5,000 that one day along the Sea of Tiberias will feed hungry souls in San Diego. There will be enough and some to spare. Not because we are enough, but because He is more than enough.
The point of the multiplied bread was multiplied praise. New needs means new ways to watch the wonders of God’s provision. To miss that is to miss everything.