So here we are, back at the picnic from last week –this time we’ll step into the sandals of the disciples. They are following hard after Jesus to learn from Him and grow in His likeness.
Given the fact that only two chapters ago they participated in Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the 5,000, shouldn’t they have a clue about where today is headed?
Wouldn’t you expect them to recognize the similarities – a hungry crowd, a remote location?
Shouldn’t they expect Jesus to pull another crowd-sized picnic out of a personal-sized picnic basket?
Well, they don’t see the similarities and they don’t expect a picnic.
They’ve probably been pretty hard at it for the last three days: organizing lines, exerting a little crowd control, assisting Jesus. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn they’ve even gotten a bit caught up in Jesus’ success and in their own importance.
“Yep. We’re pretty tight with Jesus. We’ve been with Him from the start.”
Hmmm. Apparently not tight enough.
Maybe these three days have left them flat exhausted – talked out and wiped out.
Jesus calls the disciples together to draw their attention to the hunger of the crowd.
He points to an opportunity to feel compassion. The disciples do not feel it.
He turns their heads to see and hear the truth of what’s going on. They do not see or hear it.
He opens wide the door for them to put 2 and 2 together. They do not get 4.
Their response is ungracious: “What do you expect us to do about it?”
Jesus seats everyone, says grace, and transforms 7 loaves of bread and a few fish into a crowd-sized picnic. Somewhere in the miracle, the missing puzzle piece must sink into place for the disciples with a holy snap.
They know Him best. They’ve seen and heard Him most. How have they just plain missed it? How?
Uh, oh. Right in the middle of my judgy-judgy-ness, I see myself.
They aren’t the only ones – I’ve been “missing it” plenty in the Valley:
when I lose my cool and say something hurtful
when I’m short on good humor
when I play the martyr
I’ve been missing it way too plenty.
It grieves me to remember harsh words that have spilled like vomit from my exhausted heart.
How do I keep missing it, and where in the world is the refreshment?
It’s in Jesus’ response. There are no impatient words of condemnation, no lectures of disappointment. Jesus doesn’t slap palm to forehead and sigh, “I can’t believe you still don’t get it!”
When all the niceness has evaporated from my heart like a lonely droplet of water in the desert, Jesus doesn’t bust in and say, “You’ve blown it. Get out of the way and just let Me do it.”
Instead He feeds my sagging spirit, renews my flagging strength, and forgives my regrettable words until I am refreshed –
the fiftieth time,
the hundredth time,
every time I miss it.
He reminds me in kindness Who He is and what He is like so that I can grow in His likeness.
And He does the same for you, no matter how or how many times you miss it. How refreshing.
See you next week.