Sunday, December 20, 2015

five barley loaves and two fishes

I have felt the need to share this for a while now.
This is the story of someone who has become very important in my life.
I hope he changes your life, too.
Please note: holes were filled in this account with creative license. Not all details may be accurate, but ultimately help to get the point of the story across.

Taken from John 6:5-14

A great multitude had followed Jesus after seeing the miracles He had performed. After going up into the mountain with his disciples, Jesus looked down upon the crowd.
"Jesus...was moved with compassion toward them... and he began to teach them many things." Mark 6:34

The day had grown late, and the disciples recommended sending the people to their homes to eat. 
But Jesus had another plan.
"...he saith unto Philip, [from where] shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove [Philip]: for he himself knew what he would do."

Philip, a bit taken aback by the request, examined the size of the multitude - five thousand people. It was late in the day. These people were hungry. Jesus and the disciples still need to eat. As the keeper of the money bag, Philip knew exactly how much money Jesus had to use, and there wouldn't be enough.
"Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little."

Jesus knew this of course. He nodded at Philip, acknowledged that this would not work and so there must be another option. Whether by Jesus' suggestion or their own idea, the disciples begin to go out among the people to see what food is available to be shared among the group.

Their work yielded little. The crowd had come suddenly and without preparation. Perhaps sending the people back home would be the best option.
"But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat." Matthew 14:16
Jesus wasn't done teaching.

Andrew, one of the disciples, came across a young man with some food. Five barely loaves and two small fish to be exact. Andrew asked the young man if he would be willing to share his food, to which the young man responds affirmatively. Andrew leads him back to Jesus with the food.

"There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?"
There are a hundred emotions that hit the lad at this point.
First, it's worth noting that barley was the coarse flour of those with little money. These five barley loaves may have been all the food he had for the week. Perhaps he was off to give the food to other family members. Regardless, the barley loaves indicated his poor economic status.
The lad realizes that the disciples mean to share his food with the five thousand, not just among each other. This would mean no leftover food for his own use.

The questioning in the voice of well-meaning disciple places doubt in the heart of the young man. Andrew had done all he could to find food to give the multitude, yet he doubted that it could ever be enough. And that's enough for the young man to wonder if his little bit of food is even worth offering.

Jesus sees Andrew bring the lad forward.
He listens to his disciple list the food offered.
He hears the question everyone wants to ask: how do you intend to feed five thousand?
And then Jesus turns to the young lad and asks, "May I share your food?"
The love of the Savior burns brightly as the lad looks Jesus in the eyes and responds, "Yes."

We know the rest of the story. Jesus takes the offered food, gives thanks, blesses the food, and breaks the food for the disciples to distribute among the people.
It's the miracle of how five thousand people were fed from five loaves and two small fishes.

Our Heavenly Father asks us to do certain things. He wants us to keep His commandments, to serve His children, to go to the temple, to give thanks, and so on.
Sometimes I wonder how I can ever do it all.
After all, we are imperfect mortals. I have weaknesses. A lot of them. I feel like I falter more than I move forward. I have so little I can give to Him.

But that's the point, isn't it?

Just like this young lad, we often approach the Lord with our meager offerings wondering,
What am I among so many?
Do you really expect my five loaves and two fishes to make a difference?
We doubt ourselves.
We doubt our faith.

And then Christ looks into our souls
“If you give me everything you have, I promise that miracles will happen.”

There are so many people at this crucial moment of life.
Will you give Christ your five loaves and two fishes in faith?
I have felt that this semester. I have felt my offerings seem to grow smaller and smaller to the point where I feel like all I can give is half a barley loaf.

And then Christ steps in.
That’s the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
He changes us.
He makes us whole.
He makes us instruments.
And He feeds five thousand with our seemingly insignificant offering.

This boy changed my life because he had the faith to give all he had to the Savior.
I’m still trying to grow that kind of faith.
But in the moments where I have given everything to Christ, miracles have happened.

I testify that as we bring ourselves to Christ, He will magnify our influence, our talents, and our sacrifices beyond compare.
I know God lives. I know Jesus is our Savior.
I know He loves us.
I know He heals us.
I know He makes us into more than we could ever be on our own.

And that is the story of a boy who changed my life.

summer reflections

This summer strengthened my testimony that God is in the details of our lives.
He placed people in my path who I needed to meet.
He reminded me of who I wanted to become.
He counseled me on who I did not want to become.
He made the mountains more beautiful every day.
He cooled the mornings to reduce my summer heat exhaustion.
He gave a job to someone else so I could have my dream campus job.
He gave me tender mercies, like thunderstorms, parking spots, and sleeping in.

I learned a lot about myself these past three months.
Mostly, I was reminded about the incredible people the Lord put into my life.

Coming home from a mission was hard.
Daily scripture study was hard.
Being alone was hard.
Talking to boys was really hard.

But the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ remain true, no matter where you are in life.
I know He gives us strength to do everything He asks of us. And more.
It took a while to figure it out, but I know how to better rely on Him and put my life in His hands.
I love this gospel.
And I might even be starting to love summer.