It’s been a quiet few weeks here on the blog. Much of the silence can be attributed to a crazy travel schedule, but as I considered writing in my free time, I kept coming to the same dead end: I don’t have anything to say.
Between a mission trip to Honduras, conferences for work, and trying to wrap up year-end activities at church, I didn’t have much mental capacity to spare. The dust began to settle and ideas came to mind, but then tragedy struck in Orlando, and my words vanished. I don’t have anything to say.
Writer’s block is real, but I struggle at a much deeper level. Our world is needy and broken, starving for hope and searching for answers. Violence runs rampant. Relationships fail. Prognoses are grim. Finances are tight.
In the face of such daunting heartache, it’s no wonder we sometimes feel helpless and insignificant, totally incapable of making a difference around us. When we focus on our limits and lack, we are often paralyzed from taking any action at all. If we can’t do everything, maybe we shouldn’t do anything. At least that’s what the devil wants us to believe.
According to Scripture, though, weakness isn’t an excuse to be passive but is an invitation to actively lean on the strength of God (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). The Bible repeatedly calls us to offer whatever we have to God, trusting Him to use those resources as He sees fit. Whether it’s our words, finances, time, abilities, or five measly loves and two small fish – one of our best gifts to those around us is what we offer to God for the advancement of His purposes.
Writing to believers during a time of cultural turmoil, the Apostle Peter warned against passivity. “As each has received a gift,” he wrote, “use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:10-11).
In our homes, churches, workplaces, and communities, we regularly encounter people who have needs – big and small. While we are right in recognizing our inability to meet others’ ultimate needs, we can’t overlook the reality that God has been gracious enough to entrust us with something to offer. Maybe it’s words or time. Perhaps it’s financial resources or material items. It could be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Maybe it’s the gift of encouragement or hospitality. What if the very gifts God gave us and the resources He entrusted to us are the means through which He wants to work in the lives of those around us?
I’m learning ministry is less about what I have to give others and more about what I’m willing to give back to God. As the familiar story of the boy with the loaves and fish demonstrates, God doesn’t need a lot from us to accomplish big things through us.
Just like the young boy couldn’t have fed the hungry multitude on his own, neither do we have the capacity to meet the needs around us in our own strength or by holding on to what God has given us. The boy had no idea what Jesus would do what his lunch that day, but he was willing to let Him use it. You see, we don’t have to understand how God might work to believe that He will. When our focus shifts from what we have to who God is, we’ll often be surprised at how He chooses to multiply the little bit we entrusted to Him.
I don’t know your default response to the needs around you. Maybe you’re quick to lend a helping hand. Perhaps you’re so eager to serve that you’ve overwhelmed the hurting. Others of you are probably cautious, afraid to say the wrong thing or weary of getting too emotionally involved. Whatever your typical reaction, it’s important to be willing to use what we have for the glory of God and the good of the world – all the while seeking God’s direction for how and when to best minister to those around us.
When I reflect on the life-changing, hope-giving message of the gospel, it turns out I do have something to say and actions to take in response to the needs all around me. And I think you do too.