“Bring what you have.”
I wonder how many times I’ve read those words from Matthew’s version of the feeding of the multitude story. Regardless of the number of times, it was only recently that the words finally jumped out at me.
Maybe they struck home because I can identify with Jesus’ earliest disciples. When faced with the daunting task of feeding a hungry mass of people, they felt they had nothing to offer.
In face of the overwhelming needs that seem to fill our world today, I often feel the same way. I don’t have the right words to say. I’m out of time and resources. I don’t have any physical or emotional energy left.
I doubt I’m alone when it comes to feeling I have nothing to offer—or that the little I might have could never be enough.
But then Jesus’ words speak in a new way: “Bring what you have to me.”
Those words remind me that sometimes we’re simply asked to give our nothing—our little loaves and fish—and then stand back and watch Jesus teach a different kind of economy. It’s an economy that grows out of God’s abundance rather than being limited by scarcity.
As we attempt to redefine a new reality, the challenge is to allow God’s economy of abundance to transform us.
Even though the world operates with economic assumptions of scarce resources, we don’t have to live out a vision of scarcity with our checkbooks, our time, our resources. Even though our culture operates with a system that limits distribution of goods and resources in order to protect the security of the few, we can live into God’s economy of abundance.
One of my favorite authors, Wendell Berry, writes these words in one of his poems: “We pray not for a new Earth and heaven, but to be quiet in heart and in eye clear. What we need is here.”
Berry’s words inspire me to remember that what we need is here. So when Jesus asks us to bring what we have, we can trust that we actually have something to share. And in that sharing, we have an opportunity to be transformed by God’s abundance and understand in a new way that what we bring will be more than enough.