Guest Host-Jennifer Slattery's Embracing the Impossible
The person who lives completely yielded to Christ will often find themselves taking on tasks that feel utterly beyond them. Or perhaps to put it another way, we can’t live Spirit-empowered in our comfort zones. God continually calls us to step outside of those nice, safe walls we’ve positioned around ourselves, and into the area of insufficiency and need. Where we know, without a miracle, we’ll fail. Lives will go untouched, hearts unhealed, tummies unfed.
As a high school dropout, former homeless girl, turned ministry leader, I’ve found myself, more than once, accepting eternally important assignments that I know I’m ill-equipped for. When those opportunities come, while I do take time to evaluate my skills and schedules, I never want my calendar to drive my yeses and nos.
That might sound counter-intuitive, even irresponsible. But it comes down to this: I want to be Spirit, not logic, led. I long to imitate the apostle Paul, who, during his missionary journeys, listened for God’s guidance and responded immediately, even if that meant abruptly changing directions.
I’m not there yet. I have moments of complete, faith-filled surrender and others where I remain stuck, in fear-based indecision for far too long. Where I’m focused more on details, on all I don’t have, rather than my abundant, limitless God. As if the results of my obedience were up to me.
They’re not, nor does God want me to live this Christian life according to my capabilities and strength. That won’t bring Him glory, nor will it strengthen my faith. But when I respond to His promptings with faith, despite my inner wrestling and doubts, lives are changed, mine included. That’s when I encounter the God of impossible, and having experienced His miracle-working power firsthand, my faith will never be the same. I will never un-see or un-hear, and no twist of logic could ever negate, all my God has done.
Perhaps that’s the biggest miracle of all—the work He does in us as He uses seemingly impossible situations to illuminate then annihilate our doubt within. Those situations that simply seem far too difficult for even God to address.
Like feeding 5,000 hungry men from five barley loaves and two fish. Scripture tells us Jesus, noticing His disciples themselves had empty bellies (Mark 6:31), led them to a deserted place on the far side of the Sea of Galilee (John6:1). Soon, a huge crowd followed, and He began healing their sick and teaching them about the kingdom of God. By late afternoon, the disciples encouraged Jesus to send the people away so that they could find food and lodging in the nearby villages (Luke 9:12).
“Turning to Philip, [Jesus] asked, ‘Where can we buy bread to feel all these people?’”
Philip’s jaw must’ve gone slack. Buy food for 5,000 men and all their women and children? Impossible! He replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” (John 6:7, NLT).
But notice what Scripture says in the verse prior. “[Jesus] was testing Philip, for He already knew what He was going to do” (John 6:6, NLT). He didn’t ask because He was baffled or concerned. He knew the solution, and the outcome, before He made the disciples aware of the problem. He was simply using the situation to “test” Philip—to reveal areas of doubt so that Jesus could move him to deeper faith.
And so, after organizing everyone into groups of 50-100, Jesus thanked God for their meager supplies and distributed the food to the people, until everyone had eaten their fill. In discussing this passage, David Guzik from “the Enduring Word” reminds us that this included the little boy who forfeited his lunch as well. “The boy himself ended up with more than he started with,” Guzik wrote. “It certainly was an adequate lunch for himself; but he gave it to Jesus and He turned it into an all-you-can-eat buffet for the boy as well.”
No doubt the child’s faith grew exponentially that day also, as he watched the disciples continue to person after person in group after group, passing out the bread. As he ate all his young belly could hold. And especially as he watched, probably wide-eyed, while the disciples gathered the leftovers—12 baskets full! And based on the original Greek, these were far from small containers.
In this, God left no room for doubt. He was the God of abundance who can, and often does, multiply our meager offerings into supernatural displays of His power and love. But as encouraging as that might be, I’d like to end with this:
While I don’t envision the disciples telling Jesus no—even if they’d wanted to, the young child certainly could have. Consider, what if he hadn’t offered up his meal? What if, staring about at all these grown men, insecurity and shyness had held him back. Wouldn’t they think him a fanciful child? He only had five loaves and two fish, after all. What if he spoke up and the people mocked or chastised him? Or, what if they ate his food and he ended up hungry?
He could’ve kept his lunch to himself.
Then, I’m certain God would have provided for the crowd some other way, but the kid would’ve missed out.
I’d much rather risk looking like a fanciful fool than to miss out on the amazing things of God. Hopefully I’ll remember this the next time I sense God nudging me into an unknown, uncomfortable, and seemingly impossible situation.
Let’s talk about this! In what area of your life is God calling you to respond with big faith, even in the middle of your discomfort? What truths from today’s passage can help you find the courage to do so? And perhaps the most important question: Will you?
Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who has addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. As the founder of Wholly Love Ministriesshe and her team help their local, national, and global community experience increased spiritual and emotional freedom through an ever-deepening relationship with Christ. She cohosts, with Grace Fox, the Your Daily Bible Verse podcast and also cohosts, with her Wholly Loved Ministry team, the Faith Over Fear podcast. She also maintains devotional blogs found JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and is a regular contributor to iBelieve.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Contact her through her website to book her for your next women’s event.
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