The crowd are hungry, and Jesus has compassion on them and wants to feed them. The disciples explain to him that they don’t have enough money to buy food for so many people, and so Jesus instructs them to find out what they have. They come back with a boy who has 5 loaves and 2 fish. One of the disciples asks, “But what are they for so many?”
Today is Father’s day. I am in bed still! (9.40am, I got up at 11am.) The boys have brought me up a cup of tea, and a few squares of Galaxy chocolate (their idea of breakfast in bed!), and have given me a card and a present. Today seems like a good day for reflection. They’re now downstairs, one doing homework which he forgot he had, the other playing games for a while. We’re looking forward to lunch out with family later.
As I’m sat here I feel content. In one sense the last year has been the hardest ever. And I’ve had a few of those types of years, as have we all I’m sure. To many it may appear as though I have lost a lot over the last few years. I could think that myself. But since the Bournemouth retreat (read New Season), I have seen so much more of what Father is doing, and have experienced a fresh contentment with who I am and what I have. And also with what I don’t have.
Let me give an example of what I mean.
I haven’t had a car since last year. That has been a part of learning to live differently. Dad has been amazing and I’ve been able to borrow his when I really need to use one. But mostly I’ve had to learn to live a little differently.
In September I got a bike for my birthday. The previous bike I owned was when I was 16 I think! So it had been a little time since I rode one. But I would not swap that for anything now. Not having a car has meant that I have cycled as much as possible to where I need to get to. I also walk a lot if I don’t cycle. I haven’t felt a sense of loss or of lack. There are obvious benefits. Cycling helps me keep in shape, and I’ve had numerous comments since September that I look younger and that I’m looking quite trim. Now I don’t know about that being true, but I’ll take it! But I’ve valued the sense of freedom that cycling brings.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked a question. “Doesn’t it annoy you not having a car?” To which I replied, “No, I love not having a car!”
I was explaining to a friend why I love not having a car after we talked about that question I’d been asked. It’s very simple.
You see, if the boys and I need to go to our local Co-op, or down to Farnborough town centre, we have to walk. Before July of last year, we would have just jumped in the car and been there in a matter of a few minutes. But now we have to walk. A walk to the Co-op takes between 8-10 minutes depending on our speed. That’s 16-20 minutes there and back. Down to the town centre around 15-20 minutes. I’ll let you do the maths on that one!
And this is what I explained to my friend.
When we walk to the Co-op or down to the town centre, we talk. In a way that perhaps we don’t at home. They aren’t distracted, we are just walking and talking together. And I realised that I have valued that time with them. If I had had a car since last year, I would likely not have had that time with them.
Now I have to be honest that at times I resort to bribery to get them to come to the Co-op with me! I value the walk and talk time that much! Sometimes they don’t want to come with me. Maybe they’re tired, or just being lazy. So a little “Let’s get a Frijj milkshake” or something else seems to do the trick. It’s not the milkshake I’m interested in. It’s their time, their attention, their conversation that I want.
I have been doing the best I can with what I have, and not focusing on what I don’t have. And actually something far more valuable has occurred. Time with the boys that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. Where perhaps I saw lack, I now see a much richer experience of life with the little that I do have.
I’ve written somewhere before about not focusing on what we perceive to be lack. I think it is in the post Carrot On a Stick (click the link) maybe? In feeding the five thousand, Jesus doesn’t focus on the lack, simply on what he has there and then.
And we learn that in Christ, the possibilities with what appears to be a lack are actually endless! There is always a much greater and richer experience possible when the 5 loaves and 2 fish are in the hands of Jesus himself.
Now the funny thing is, this week someone has offered to give me a car to say thank you for everything! I have accepted. It’s a blessing for me and I will explain at a later time the blessing it is for that person to give. There are some things to sort out, so I won’t have it for a while. But I can guarantee that what I’ve learnt in the time since I’ve not had a car will cause me to live differently with a car than I have done in the past. I don’t want to lose the time with the boys, or to lose the fact that I’m getting younger every day the more I walk and cycle!
It’s important not to forget the value, the possibilities and the richness of Life experience in the 5 loaves and 2 fish in the hands of Jesus himself. Let me encourage you again. Do your best with what you have, where you are! You and I have all we need if we have Jesus himself.
Eat the Living Bread, drink the Living Water.