Albert Einstein was asked about his approach to problems. He replied, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” So what questions are you asking of yourself, of life, of the Lord? Naturally we ask ourselves things like, “How am I going to pay my bills? How will I come through this situation?” There are much more important concerns in life and if we raise our thoughts to that level, the ordinary questions will find their answers. Better that we ask ourselves, “What does God want me to do? How can He use me given my present circumstances?”
Jesus’ disciples were ‘just folks.’ They weren’t big picture thinkers, profoundly spiritual people at the start, but He invited them to change in everyday lessons.
One day when He saw a crowd approaching, He asked them what looked like a simple question that was meant to enlarge their faith. “When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.” (John 6:5-6, NIV) Philip, living only in the natural, quickly pointed out that it would take a lot of money and that they had none! I can identify with that man. I define possibility by the boundaries I create – money, time, ability, resources.
Why is it so much easier to say, “I can’t” than it is to say, “How can we get this done?”
Another of the disciples seems to show a flicker of faith. “Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:8-9, NIV) Andrew saw a kid with a lunch, but there were thousands of people that Jesus wanted to feed. At least he was thinking about the possibility doing what Jesus asked and asking a better question!
What is God asking of you?
Let your first response be one of faith that asks Him how He wants it done, not one that says, “I can’t!” In most of the stories of people used by God there is an appalling lack of faith, at first. Moses told the Lord a whole bunch of reasons he was not able to go lead the Israelites out of their Egyptian slavery. Gideon was quick to tell the Lord that he was nobody from nowhere and completely incapable of defeating Israel’s enemies. King Saul told David he was too young and inexperienced to take on Goliath. But, when those people changed the questions they were asking from ‘what I can do’ to ‘what God can do,’ they went on to do the impossible.
Before you run off convinced that you are somebody great, that God has an obligation to do whatever you are dreaming up, let me quickly remind you that real faith is anchored to HIS PURPOSES AND HIS PLANS, not yours. God has no obligation to make you a success, but He desires to make His Name great and will do with you and me, ordinary creatures who He equips to do what He asks of us.
Start to learn faith where you are, in the circumstances that are your life, now. It is foolish to think that we will go off to change the lives of thousands in some exotic location if we can’t or won’t love the people we live with. Start here, now. When the work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s Temple was starting, post Exile, some mocked, some said it could not happen. God’s answer to them was “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT) The Lord was glad to see the work started, the foundation laid.
Today, ask God for the way to forgive that person you hate.
Ask Him for the way He wants you to serve … your family.
Ask Him for faith to start to be generous with the resources He’s entrusted to you.
The disciples learned a lesson that day about the possibilities of faith. As you read this word from the Word – invite the Spirit of God to increase your faith. “Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.” (John 6:11-13, NLT)
Abba, You assure me that You can do
“Immeasurably more than we ask”
but the world I live in conspires to box me in,
to limit my vision.
Help me to ask the right questions,
to seek Your will and to invite Your solutions.
Increase my faith!
And, when people see Your love operating in me
then YOU will be honored, lifted up, and all will be drawn to You.
Work through me, today, I pray,
In Jesus’ Name. Amen