I remember, in Sunday School, lustily bellowing out the words to the children’s song:
And, with child-like enthusiasm, I would pledge my commitment to Jesus as I sang out the chorus:
It’s a song (and a story) which reminds us how God can work with anything we have to offer – no matter how small or insignificant we think it is – and do wonderful things. I’m sure I didn’t understand at the time the full implications of what I was promising as I sang, but all I could see were the possibilities, the excitement, the joy.
There are three characters we could look at as we read this miraculous story.
There’s Philip, seeking practical ways of helping the crowd, but only seeing the human impossibility of the situation. There’s Andrew, who brought the young boy with his meagre offering to Jesus. He, too, could see the difficulties but was willing to put things into Jesus’ hands and see what happened. “I’m not sure what good this’ll do, but here you are…” He showed hope within the apparent impossibility. And finally, of course, there’s the little boy. His child-like enthusiasm only saw the possibilities. He handed over what he had, entrusted it to Jesus, and watched (you can almost see his eyes popping out in wonder and his mouth gaping open) as Jesus fed the crowd.
Which of the characters would we resonate with? Are we like practical Philip, looking for human solutions; or Andrew, daring to hope as we put things before Jesus in our prayers; or are we like the young lad whose trust and willingness to serve can only see the wonderful possibilities? I’d say I’m probably mainly an Andrew – with a good dose of Philip – and only a small glimmer of the boy. How wonderful if I (and, indeed, all of us) could have more of that child-like expectation, hope and faith!
Many people in our society feel that our brothers and sisters in prison are beyond hope; that any talk of salvation is impossible. At Prison Fellowship, we don’t believe this to be the case. There are practical ways we can help – there is always room for a bit of Philip! We can bring their situations before Jesus, recognising the difficulties, but having Andrew-like hope that Jesus can make something good happen. And we can be like the young boy, giving what we can to support those in prison, in full confidence that God can use our gift, no matter how small, and work miracles in their lives.
Of course, this applies to our lives as a whole, too. Let’s not be limited by seemingly impossible situations. Let us dare to hope as we bring things to Jesus in prayer. And let us find again something of that child-like joy, faith and enthusiasm as we take a big breath and sing out, “I will give Jesus all that I have.” Who knows what wonderful things will happen? And they will… because, this is what happened when one little lad gladly gave Jesus all that he had!
Eilidh Gunson is a member of PF Huddersfield.
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