I was overwhelmed.
Too many things to do. Too many articles to write. Too many needs to meet. And not enough time or resources for any of it.
I had woken up early to get started. Reluctantly, I had skipped my quiet time and jumped right into my work. I was quite productive, working at a rapid pace. But at the day’s end, when I looked at my to-do list, there was still so much left to do.
I panicked all over again, unsure how I was going to get it all finished. I went to bed with a heavy heart. The tasks ahead of me were overwhelming.
The next morning I was tempted to do the same thing, and skip my quiet time. But the Lord tenderly drew me back to my little devotional corner. I needed to spend time with Him. I figured I had a few minutes to spare, so I opened my Bible to my bookmarked place in Matthew 16.
The passage I read stopped me in my tracks.
Jesus had just fed the 4000 and gotten into the boat with the disciples. When they had crossed over to the other side, the disciples realized that they’d forgotten to bring bread for themselves and started blaming each other. Jesus reminded them that they had just witnessed a miracle, fed 4000 people, and even gathered up excess. All with no bread of their own.
The truth of those words and the miracle that Jesus had just performed landed heavy on me. The disciples had a huge task in front of them – feeding 4000 hungry people, when they had no resources of their own. They brought nothing themselves except for their willingness to obey Jesus. That’s all they needed. God did the rest.
In the end, the disciples didn’t feed 4000 people—Jesus did.
God reminded me that I wasn’t going to accomplish anything monumental by myself. Skipping prayer and jumping straight into work, especially kingdom work, is foolishness. These are God’s tasks, not mine. To accomplish His work I need to stay rooted in His presence.
When I minister in my own strength, I may see short-term results, but there is no lasting fruit. I have no power to effect real change. But when God is the source, miraculous things happen.
The disciples fed 4000 with bread that Jesus gave to them. But back in the boat, they were worried about feeding themselves because they didn’t have anything. What an amazing lesson for me. When I rely on my own strength, I look around and wonder how I will make it. But when I look to God, I see that I can do all things through Christ. And He has unlimited resources.
Like the disciples, I didn’t need to come up with the food. I just had to distribute what God was giving me.
I closed the Bible and prayed. For the first time in days, I felt an enormous sense of relief. Ultimately, my ministry and my family could not be served by my meager resources. They would be served out of God’s life-giving abundance. God would do all the work- my job was to listen to His voice.
So much had been accomplished that morning. My attitude towards my tasks was completely different. I didn’t feel as responsible for the outcome – I just needed to be faithful with my input.
That freedom carried over to the following days and weeks as I sensed the Lord’s direction in what I did. I was able to write and focus on my tasks immediately. It was as if God Himself was doing it for me. I began to pray more diligently about my work before starting it, a simple yet life-changing step.
Of course, God doesn’t only bless our work if we pray or have a quiet time. And God does not love me more when I read the Bible, or condemn me when I don’t. My time with God is not a favor I do for Him, hoping to get something in exchange. It is something that I need, not something God needs from me. It is His gift to me. If I skip it, I am the one missing out on this gift. In my time with Him, God instructs me. Fills me with hope. Empowers me. Gives me direction. Shows me that when I look to Him, He can use me to feed 4000.
I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther, who said, Tomorrow I plan to work, work, from early until late. In fact I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
photo courtesy of Jonathan Davidar