Have you ever felt like you had nothing left to give?
Maybe this season in your life is full of tiny humans. Maybe you’re neck deep in ministry and the more you’re asked to do the more unqualified you feel.
You could be struggling to adjust to your new life as a graduate, a wife, an empty nester. Your family is asking everything of you. Your friends are struggling and your empathetic heart is taking a toll. Your house is a mess. You’ve restarted your diet for the billionth time.
You are lonely.
You are broke.
You are tempted.
In the midst of all that…God is still working.
The Spirit of God is still alive and active in you. When we are at the bottom of the barrel hoping to find a sip for ourselves, when our well is running dry, God will still use you.
I’ve had a very long year – the exhaustion is deep. This is down in my soul kind of tired. And some days the last thing I want to do is worship. The last thing I want to do is lead another small group. The last thing I want to do is drag my grumpy toddler to church when we could be eating pancakes in our pajamas.
Thank God He’s more faithful than I am.
Even after a really long year I found myself at our final youth group meeting in tears. I know that in just a week or two I’m going to be missing it. I lead a junior high small group which unfortunately means that my girls turn over after a very short two years. Every January I am usually ready to throw in the towel and tell them to figure it out themselves (they get a little distracted). But here comes May right around the corner and I’m not ready to say goodbye.
After our final small group meeting of the year I was told to sit at the head of the table. One by one, all of my girls looked me in the eyes and without any prompting proceeded to speak straight to my heart. There were
a lot of SO MANY tears.
I had fooled myself into thinking that I had given them about 50% effort this year. I felt pretty guilty about it. They deserve so much more but I honestly just didn’t have it in me. My logic was all wrong. Sierra had given them 50% but Jesus continued to show up 100% every single week.
When I was too busy thinking of how overwhelmed I was God was busy using me moment by moment. It may have been a volleyball game. One time it was a spare 3 minutes after class. It could have been the movie we watched. Maybe it was that hug or that smile or the dumb joke I made. God was in the tears we shared. God was in texts sent before try-outs. He showed up in the waiting room of the hospital. He made sure she got a ride home. Sierra couldn’t have done all of those things on her own.
We are so incapable of most things. We get tired or sick. We make bad choices and are disorganized. We build in too much busy-ness. At the end of the day we are running on fumes and our capacity to do big things is limited.
God likes to do big things with a little.
Big things are hard to do but small things are manageable and add up overtime. Running a marathon is a big goal for many people. They get stuck and give up when they look at 26.2 miles instead of 1. Ministry is a marathon and looking ahead 20 years from now will give you an ulcer. Looking ahead just to tomorrow? That will give you hope.
There is a pretty good story in the Gospels of Jesus doing something really big with something really little. (You know where I’m going with this).
John 6: 5-9
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus had been teaching people all day and like most congregations, these people were getting hungry. In typical Jesus fashion he poses a questions to his disciples and they look around at each other and have no idea what to do. They stress about it and resign that it is impossible. Then they find a kid. This poor little guy had a lunch packed with a napkin note from mom and it’s a joke to think that it’s going to make a difference.
But he handed it over anyway.
John 6: 10-13
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
It would have been just as miraculous if Jesus had stretched this tiny lunch to feed the people enough. No one would have faulted if Jesus had even just fed most of them. He literally defied logic and physics and made something out of nothing. But Jesus didn’t just duplicate what the boy had given him, he multiplied it. He fed thousands with it. And then there were left overs!
Some days we show up and the only thing we can give God is the stale heal of a loaf of bread. “Lord, I have nothing” we explain sheepishly. “There isn’t much left and I’m sorry. I guess if you want it you can have it.”
Then God sets the table, brings out the good China, and brings out a feast.
Whatever you have left God will gladly take it off your hands. He will always turn it into something bigger than we could imagine. We have to let him have it first. That’s the hard part. We cling to that little bit of energy, money, time, comfort, hope, we have left, forgetting that if we are faithful God is going to turn it into something greater.
I can’t do anything good. I’m the worst. No one loves comfort or sleep more than me. God is still faithful. On my worst days, if I just hand it over, God multiplies my efforts.
He blessed me with the kind words from my small group girls. He was reminding me that He’s the one doing the good work and I can trust Him.
So, are you tired? Do you need God to do a lot of multiplying?
Hand it over.
Please comment and let me know how I can pray for you. Share how you’ve seen God come through even when you felt like you weren’t giving him much to work with. If this brought you encouragement share it with your friends. And go take a nap!