The early days of November, following All Saints’ Day, have long afforded me an opportunity to reflect upon the people in my life who have lived their lives and now rest from their labors. During these days, I take some time to intentionally think about those in my life who have died, and how their lives shaped my own. This year, the thoughts of my loved ones have been centered in a rather contemplative question: what did they do with what they had and who they were?
This year, I have thought especially about my father, my grandfather, and my campus pastor. Of my dad, I can truly say that he lived his life as a long obedience in the same direction. From my grandpa, I learned that every day you have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. The only question is, will you make a difference for good or for ill? And my campus pastor – he most certainly practiced what he preached and lived what he taught.
What about you? What will you do with what you have and who you are?
In the Gospel of Matthew, amid the story of Jesus feeding thousands of people, we find Jesus asking the disciples, “how many loaves do you have?” A simple, practical question. People need to be fed; what resources do you have to do it?
I think, however, that this question moves beyond the boundaries of this story from Jesus’ day and into our own lives. How many loaves do you have, and what are you going to do with them?
We may not be asked to feed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread, but each and every day, we face tasks of our own that may seem impossible. We face challenges that seem beyond our ability to master. We are confronted with situations that we neither seek nor desire, and yet, those tasks, and challenges, and situations demand our attention. In the face of such things, we hear Jesus’ question, how many loaves do you have, and what are you going to do with them?
Such questions may cause us to pause, but in that pause, I urge you to remember that God never calls people to something for which God has not already equipped them.
God called Moses to lead his people out of slavery, and God equipped him with all that he needed to bring the people to freedom. God called the widow of Nain to feed the prophet Elijah when she had nothing left to feed herself and her son, and God equipped her with an endless jar of meal. God called David to slay the giant, and God equipped him with five smooth stones that were more than enough. God called Jeremiah to speak God’s own, and God equipped him with the words and the passion to do so.
God never calls people to do something for which God has not already equipped them. That was true for the people of old. It is true also for you.
What tasks and challenges and situations do you face today? The same God who equipped Moses, the widow, David, Jeremiah – this same God equips you – day after day after day.
God has placed in your hands all the loaves that you need, and as for the disciples facing a hungry crowd, the loaves that you have are more than enough.
Nov. 6, 2012
Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox and Rev. James A. Wetzstein serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.