Friday, January 7, 2011
Wanting Loaves and Fishes but Getting Manna
I was talking to my good friend, Keith Ward, about how you simply cannot put God in a box. God is inscrutable. The dictionary says inscrutable means, "Not readily investigated, interpreted or understood." In other words, "mysterious".
That is a perfect description. Our God is mysterious.
Keith and I happened to talking about the CAT 50 Day Year End Challenge which began in late October and ran through the end of 2010. I totally thought it was an idea straight from God. We would run a fund raising campaign for 50 days with the ultimate goal of raising $50,000. It seemed doable, attainable and, if not exactly easy, certainly a worthwhile challenge. In October I imagined how it was going to feel to have not just enough funds for CAT but an abundance that would give us a strong foundation as we headed into the new year.
I talked about the challenge with people every day. I prayed about it every day. I blogged and e-mailed about it. I'm pretty sure people got a teensy-bit tired hearing about the challenge. I even went through the phase I call the "insurance guy" period. When I was much younger I sold life insurance for a bit. I imagined people who saw me coming would change direction to avoid me or, if I were in a store, would hide behind the clothing racks so I wouldn't ask them about their long range financial plans. I had this same sort of paranoia-like experience mid-way through the challenge. If I ran into someone I knew at the grocery store, I kind of imagined that they would swerve down an aisle at Staters they had no reason to use (Wow! What a selection of diapers here, I had no idea!") or they would suddenly take a cell call as I approached.
Still the Lord was in it and people were incredibly generous. From the widow who gave all she had ($5) to corporations who gave thousands, we watched with tremendous joy and exhilaration as we worked our way through the days toward the end of 2010.
I wanted it to be like the miracle of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes. You know the story from the Gospels. A huge crowd is following Jesus because he had been performing great miracles like healing the sick. Jesus sees that the crowd is enormous. They are out in the middle of nowhere and there's nothing for all these people to eat. He asks his disciples where they can buy bread to feed everyone (John 6:5). The ever practical Philip points out that it would take 8 months worth of wages to be able to afford to feed everyone. Peter's brother, Andrew brings up one little boy whose mom had planned ahead (of course, what a good mom!) and sent her son off with a sack lunch. "I found this boy but all he has is five little barley loaves and two fishes (the Biblical equivalent of tuna on rye, I guess). Andrew goes on to ask what difference such a small amount has against the reality of 5,000 men and their families.
Jesus does not answer Andrew's obvious question but instead tells the disciples to have everyone sit down. That would have been fun to watch: 12 disciples flapping their arms in the air: "Sit down, please everyone, sit down...." Then Jesus takes the loaves and fishes, prays over them and then tells the disciples to share them with all the people. Everyone got all they could possibly eat. They were stuffed. Then Jesus tells the disciples to gather all that was left over - that nothing should be wasted. According to John 6:13, they had 12 baskets of bread left over: WOW!
Well, honestly, that's what I wanted to have happen with the 50 Day challenge. I wanted us to end in December by not just hitting our goal of $50,000 but with baskets of abundance for the New Year. Note: That's what I wanted but that is not what happened.
What did happen was more like the story in Exodus 16 when God provided the Israelites the thin, white wafers that tasted like they were made with honey every day (except on the Sabbath Day): Manna. Exodus tells us that each day the ground was covered with manna. Exactly enough for all of the Israelites to eat. By the time the mid-day sun had heated all the ground, the manna was gone until the next day.
Well, just like God's manna for the Israelites, every day God cares for CAT and provides just what we need: no more. He holds us close and sustains us in a tender and wonderful way. He's been sustaining us through thick and thin for our entire 12 years.
We received an incredible abundance of $22,174.69 from the 50-Day Challenge: Fantastic! All that wonderful generosity helped meet our obligations as the year came to a close.
I have, I admit, been second guessing myself, though. Did I work hard enough? Did I follow up every lead? Did I clearly explain why supporting CAT is a good thing for kids and families? I don't know how to answer those questions. I did my best although I always, always think I could have done better. As I said, I thought the Challenge was God's idea. It wasn't that I thought raising $50,000 was a fore gone conclusion but.. if I faithfully did the work wouldn't God "do his part", so to speak.
But, you see, God is inscrutable and mysterious. As I Corinthians 2:9 says, No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. God loves me. God loves CAT. We were faithful to do his work with the challenge and in 2011 I know He is going to continue to love and sustain us. That is his nature. Psalm 91: 14 says, "Because he loves me," Says the Lord, "I will rescue him: I will protect him for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
It's wonderful to know that God is in charge. I don't need to know all the details, that's God's part. Now, how about joining me for a delicious piece of manna?