Each of us who are Jesus followers brings a unique set of spiritual gifts, talents and resources to function together as Christ’s body and carry out Jesus’ mission in the world. But, possessing the gifts is not enough. We must release the gifts that God has entrusted to our care in order to experience a lifetime of miraculous increase. This is a fundamental life principle that has proven to be true in my experience. We find life in the act of giving our life gifts to others.
In Luke 9:10 we read that Jesus had retreated with his 12 disciples to a beautiful, semi-mountainous area along the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee for some rest and reflection. However, stories of Jesus’ miraculous healings had spread quickly through the surrounding Galilean towns and villages. Even in Jesus’ day, fame came with a price that sunglasses and baseball caps couldn’t hide. The pressing crowds became overbearing, and at times escape seemed impossible.
Anyone who has been around long enough might remember the unexpected crowd of over four hundred thousand people who flocked to the Woodstock Festival, held on a dairy farm in New York State in August of 1969. Food vendors, among others, were completely unprepared. Similarly, you can just imagine how Jesus’ disciples reacted when a massive crowd showed up with no food trucks in sight, pleading to Jesus, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here” (Luke 9:12).
Now, I want you to catch what Jesus said next. In a shocking reversal of expectation, he shifted responsibility back to the disciples: “You give them something to eat” (v. 13). Remember, God is in the miracle business, and miracles have two components: divine intervention + human initiative = miraculous.
Not surprisingly, the disciples responded with disbelief: “We only have five loaves of bread and two fish” (v. 13)— a quantity of food that was totally inadequate to feed a crowd that included five thousand heads of households. Yet look at Jesus’ response: “You give them something to eat.”
An exponential miracle began to unfold when the disciples became willing to let go and let God. It seemed totally illogical. How could so little do so much for so many? But you and I, together in community, become the source for God’s miracles. We find life by giving our gifts of life—both spiritual and physical— for God’s provision and saving work in the lives of others. We must release in order to experience God’s miracle of increase; we must lose our life to find it.
Jesus blessed the meager meal the disciples had gathered and then entrusted them with the mission of distribution. Disciples of Jesus are called to be God’s FedEx delivery system throughout the planet. And, yes, we deliver on weekends and holidays. We need to remind ourselves daily that we are God’s way of delivering heaven’s resources into the lives of God’s children: “and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:2).
How are you releasing your life gifts for God’s increase of blessing in the lives of others? After all, you were made for a miracle.
This blog has been excerpted in part from my new book and Lenten study Made for a Miracle: from your ordinary to God’s extraordinary (Abingdon Press).
Mike Slaughter, pastor emeritus and global church ambassador for Ginghamsburg Church, served for nearly four decades as the lead pastor and chief dreamer of Ginghamsburg and the spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations. Mike is also the founder and chief strategist of Passionate Churches, LLC, which specializes in developing pastors, church staff and church lay leaders through coaching, training, consulting and facilitation services. Mike’s call to "afflict the comfortable" challenges Christians to wrestle with God and their God-destinies. Mike’s newest book is Made for a Miracle: from your ordinary to God’s extraordinary (Abingdon Press).