We count on God to multiply our work. We recount the story of the loaves and fishes, saying “I’m giving God what little I have, and He will multiply it!”
But what about the times when He does not?
What about the times when the 5 loaves and the 2 fish don’t end up feeding hundreds? What about the times when they only feed 2 people, just like we feared they would?
I love to teach; it fills me with so much joy. I’ve been blessed by the opportunities to teach 4th and 5th grade Sunday School students, Penn State students, Grace Prep high school students, and women’s Bible studies. I’ve taught nursery school children, dolls, and babies. I’ve taught from podiums in large ballrooms, from chalkboards in average classrooms, and from tables in the library as I’ve tutored students one-on-one. I’ve loved every minute of it.
Like Eric Liddell who felt God’s pleasure when he ran, I feel God’s pleasure when I teach.
When I am in the midst of a season of teaching – say, a women’s Bible study – I feel so close to the Lord. I ask Him for guidance during my research and preparation. I ask for His blessing on my students. I ask for His presence during my teaching. And I offer the gift back to Him. I pray,
“Lord, you’ve given me this gift. As I teach, take the glory! Make the most of my small offering. I am your servant and your child. This is all for you.”
I offer my time, energy, and best abilities to God because I want Him to use it for His glory! I want Him to make the most of it and to multiply it. When He does – and when I see those baskets-full of miraculous surplus – I feel like I’m really serving Him. I feel like He’s really pleased by my offering. And He may be.
But… what about the times when there is no multiplication? No miracle?
What about the times when my time, energy, and best abilities remain as humble and unimpressive as they actually are?
What about the times when the 5 loaves and 2 fish are just… well… 5 loaves and 2 fish?
What about the times when God isn’t using my gift to feed the masses?
What about the times when God is not using your gift?
Sometimes, when I have a quiet moment or two, I acquaint myself with my longing for the rigors of teaching in a formal setting. I long for a classroom of eager students, for research and preparation, for the satisfaction of improving, enlarging, and inspiring people as a teacher.
Sometimes I feel like my “teaching gift” is dormant; that God isn’t using it right now. I tell myself that maybe He will use it again – maybe – in the future.
“Lord, you’ve given me this gift. You are not using it in a big spectacular way at this moment, but I will still offer it to You. I will still lay it in your hands. I am your servant and your child. This is all for you.”
As it turns out, He is asking me to teach. Not from a podium, nor a chalkboard, nor a library table. Not even in a Sunday School classroom. But, He’s using it at the kitchen table, on the couch, from the driver’s seat, at the baseball diamond.
Right now, I teach our five precious children at home. Over the years, I’ve struggled to count this as real “teaching” even though every day, I teach my five little students everything good, noble, and praiseworthy that I can think of. I teach them as many practical and helpful life skills that I can. I give 100% of myself to their well-being and their development. I go to bed the way a human should – entirely grateful and entirely exhausted. And I sleep like a champ.
During this season of life, teaching for me is small and humble. I’m not on a hillside with hundreds or thousands of students.
And yet, for every loaf of bread I have – there is a hungry mouth to feed.
I’ve discovered that sometimes the crowds don’t need my gifts to be multiplied, but instead one person needs the whole meal.
In any circumstances and in all sorts of company, may I offer everything I have to Jesus, trusting Him to use them as He sees best.