Friday, December 14, 2007

Taking the Risk

The account of feeding the five thousand in the gospels is such a powerful story to me, one the Lord has used a number of times to speak to my heart - most recently this week. I had been having an email dialogue with a friend regarding a quote about and by Henri Nouwen:

Nouwen believed that what is most personal is most universal; he wrote, "By giving words to these intimate experiences I can make my life available to others."

This quote challenged me because while I see the value of being that open, and have been helped by Nouwen's openness in sharing his own life and struggles, it is another thing for me to be that open with my own life. Sharing personal things in the past with some has caused wounding in my life, so I have been reticent about being too transparent, and not sure it is worth the risk, that it will make that much difference.

Then God reminded me again of that story in Luke 9. Crowds of people have come out to hear Jesus teach, and they have been with him all day. They are in a dry, deserted place and they are hungry. The disciples are talking to Jesus and they just want to send the people away so they can find their own food and take care of their own needs. But Jesus' response to them is, "YOU give them something to eat."

They looked at themselves, they looked at the crowd and I'm sure they thought, "Us? No way." How could they ever meet the need? What did they have that could even begin to feed the multitude of hungry people? All they had come up with was five little loaves of bread and two fish - not even enough for themselves.

But Jesus was not bothered by the small amount of food they showed Him. He just took what they had, and He lifted it up to the Father for Him to lay His hands on it and to bless it. After it was blessed, in order for it to be able to feed everyone, it had to be broken. And through the breaking something was made available that fed and blessed others who were in need.

Sometimes there are people in need around us that we are tempted to send on their way, or we want Jesus to meet their needs. And His response to us is - YOU do it. He knows we don't have much in ourselves, but He asks us to be willing to offer what we do have to Him. When we do, He will bless it and break it, and use it to meet needs; but it can feel scary to make that kind of offering to God.

However, God is able to break what we offer Him of ourselves in a way that does not leave the gift broken in a useless way. Rather, in this story the brokenness of the gift enabled it to meet the needs of those who were in a dry, barren, and weary state. The broken offering brought refreshment and hope and strength to the people.

To be broken in the world in painful. But God wants to redeem and use our brokenness to minister to others, if we will take the risk and offer it to Him. This is what God is asking me to do. I have been taking baby steps, but now He is asking me to trust Him more by taking bigger steps. Am I willing to give words to my intimate experiences and make my life available to others?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

falling leaves

a profusion of words
in my mind....
i throw them
into the air
like handfuls of
autumn leaves
and let them float
slowly down
to the ground

gathering them into piles
i roll around in them
then lay pensively on my back
staring up
at bare branches
and brassy sky

at last i rise
covered in autumn hues
golds and reds and browns
clinging haphazardly

what will these words reveal
about this season
of my life
as they


"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1