Daily reflections from the Bolton Circuit

Rev Hilary Howarth  – 5th August 2020

The Impossible, Possible.

One of the most inspiring people I have known is June. She’d been an occasional visitor at church, but as she got to know people and make friends, she’d started to come more often. She was a market trader and would set off for work very early in the morning. One morning she was involved in a head-on car crash. She suffered massive injuries and was very poorly. She was rushed to hospital where the doctors did their best, her wonderful family gathered round her bed and the church got together to pray for her. Gradually, she began to recover. She underwent many setbacks, had numerous operations and was constantly in pain.

“Jesus brought me through”, she’d say when I would visit her. “What can I do for him in return?” she would ask, and I have to say I didn’t really know. But she found her own way of responding to Jesus. Everyone who visited her to pray – she would pray for them. She’d ask them who they wanted prayer for and that’s what she did. She gave me money to buy holding crosses and all the nurses and doctors, cleaners, casual visitors to the ward – everyone got one. “I’m grateful for what Jesus has done for me, I can’t do a lot, but I can do this.”

We have all probably at some point in our lives asked ourselves “what difference can anything I do make to someone else’s life?” Have you ever asked yourself “what contribution can I make to God’s kingdom”? And really if we are realistic there are very few of us who can make a very big difference, but the feeding of the 5,000 illustrates what happens when God takes what seems to be very little and turns it into something great.

John 6:5-9 Jesus looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him. So he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test Philip. He already knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Suppose we were able to buy enough bread for each person to have just a bite. That would take more than half a year’s pay!” Another of his disciples spoke up. He said, “Here is a boy with five small loaves of barley bread. He also has two small fish. But how far will that go in such a large crowd?”

When we say “I can’t do this” or “it’s impossible”? Have we forgotten that we’re dealing with God who is the God who can do the impossible? The disciples underestimated Jesus, in his hands what was given in a spirit of generosity was taken and blessed and fed at least 4,999 people more than it had been prepared for. God is able to take an apparently inadequate response and use it in a way that defies human understanding. The young boy could so easily have reasoned that his loaves and fishes could achieve nothing among so many, but he didn’t, instead he offered them to Jesus. So, what holds us back from taking what we have and making our own response?

You may have heard the story of the little boy walking along a beach. During the night thousands of starfish are washed up on the beach. The little boy is taking one starfish at a time and throwing it back into the water. A man walking along the beach laughs at the child “Why are you bothering, you’re not going to make much difference?” “Maybe not,” says the little boy “but I’m making a difference to this one.”

We may feel that we haven’t very much to offer, or barely make a difference, or we’re not good enough to do anything for God. We offer what little we can, God takes it and works with it – and we can see amazing results – just like the boy with his bread and fish. A little in God’s hands can achieve more than we can ever imagine.

Prayer: Lord, give me a spirit of generosity that puts all I have and I all I am into your hands, however inadequate it may seem, then may I see you at work when I see what can be achieved when you and I work together in your kingdom. Amen.