Can you think of a time in life when you didn’t think you had much to offer, but God ended up using you in a big way? Well ... I have a question ... and it may not sound related, but it sure is.
Can you make stone soup?
I am not sure who wrote the old tale, STONE SOUP, and I am not 100 per cent sure of the real story. However, I heard it long ago, and it is a story with countless versions. It narrates of a hungry man who comes to a village community and no one there can spare a stinkin' scrap of food for him.
SO. The traveller places some water in a pot over a fire. This action doesn't sound odd at all ... until he puts a big ol' rock in it. Piqued with curiousity, the villagers observe him as he begins to stir his "soup."
Finally, one brings a couple of potatoes to add to the mix. Another character has a few carrots. An individual adds an onion, another a handful of barley. A farmer even provides some milk.
Ultimately the "stone soup" becomes a ... a ... well, it sounds like delicious chowder to me but you be the judge.
And that little anecdote has often demonstrated the power of participating in something together, right? It is a great tale to tell our children or maybe even OURSELVES when we feel like we don't have much to offer in the way of service.
So here's that I'm thinking today. Look carefully in your personal cupboard and ...
BRING WHAT YOU HAVE
This story of a boy who appears to be the only person in a vast crowd who thinks about bringing some food to Jesus, also reminds us, that even when it is seemingly insignificant, to BRING WHAT WE HAVE!
I studied to be a youth minister, and I ended up ministering to youth by teaching high school Spanish for 20 years. It is definitely NOT what I intended to do, but ... I'm okay with that. Thank you, God. I asked a slew of my closest lady-friends if they could think of a time in life when they didn't know they had much to offer, but God ended up using them in a big way ... and in general, the response was unanimous. Our God is a single-parenting, marriage-saving, career-surprising, family-saving, mountain-moving (sometimes-jokester) deity.
You know what I meant by jokester, right? No disrespect intended at all. See, I know a guy who was a ruffian-of-a-teenager-jail-bait-drug-addict that will definitely belt out a hearty GUFFAW when he tells this short life-story: "God must have said to an angel, 'Hey, watch this guy. He thinks he's a loser. He's going to bring hundreds of souls to this kingdom. Want some popcorn?' "
You guessed it. That guy is a full-time missionary.
And now I will share with you some amazing life-does-a-U-turn because God is driving examples. All solicited, all very willing participants, not only in sharing, but in following a great God.
This next story may seem unrelated, but as you guessed, it isn't. So let's take a moment to consider this little boy:
One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”
Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.
When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.
The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, “This is the Prophet for sure, God’s Prophet right here in Galilee!”
-JOHN 6:8-14 (MSG)
Jesus' disciples had precious little use for the boy's scanty lunch of five loaves and two fishes. But surrendered to Him, Jesus multiplies it and feeds hungry people -- by the thousands.
I'll bet you're thinking of how God can use YOU in a big way right now. Right? ;-)
FIND YOUR MISSION FIELD
I genuinely think that one common goal for humankind is to leave a legacy. We need to understand that God's story we are living in is making an impact. No mission work will have actual value unless we bring Jesus' message to people, sometimes by just being there.
With different kinds of missionary endeavours, we can make an enduring impact. There is also one thing all mission works have in common, and that is aiming to be Christ-like to ALL.
Make sure you're sitting down. These are going to be amazing. Please listen to the following statements about some believers who witnessed God do something pretty significant in that he didn't just move their calling, He moved their method:
Learning how to sit still, learning how to hear His voice, giving Him SPACE to speak ... these are not just for a mission trip. These are for LIFE! We want to be so in tune to His Spirit and what He's saying. To me, this strange time is similar to how fasting is removing that thing that you may be consumed with so you can hear God a little clearer.
"This strange time is similar to how fasting is really removing that thing that you may be consumed with so you can hear God a little clearer."
Are you ready? This is the best part. The aim of any Christian should be to be a light in this world of darkness. With that goal in mind, you can glorify God with just about anything that you do, produce, and ... ARE. These types of missionary work aren’t strictly the ones that we have mentioned in many references in this blog or any foreign missions your church supports. Nick Callos of Volunteer Forever aptly says that "mission trips can transform you for the better. Go with an open heart and open mind, and you’ll see, do, and experience wonderful things."
And the truth is also that there is no tried and true list of what qualifies as mission work. There are not any specific jobs that God is going to do His work through more than another. God is going to use anything and everything for His glory. It is just a question as to whether we allow Him to do just that.
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds,
giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
II Corinthians 9:10-11, MSG
Just as Jesus took one person's meal and increases it far beyond anyone's thoughts or expectations, He'll accept our yielded disciplines, skills, and service. Ultimately, He desires us to be willing to bring what we have to Him. So, friend. You don't need to feed the five thousand. You must only bring your loaves and fishes.
And maybe, just maybe, you can invite others to join you while making your "stone soup" a life ministry because you are starting with the Rock of Ages. The only difference between that story and yours is that you are not hiding the truth of the rock in the center of your soup. That way, those who join you can bring what they have to Him, and their lives and talents make life a lot tastier.
I ask again, can you think of a time in life when you didn’t know you had much to offer, but God ended up using you in a big way?
Or maybe you're considering that it's your time to let Him.
Dear reader, please share how God surprised you in life by using you in a much bigger way than you ever anticipated. Or, tell us what your plans are to serve him by "doing missions" (even from your home!) this summer!