Bread and water are the often joked about references to the food of the incarcerated. But bread and water are two elements Jesus uses to show Peter the secret to a full and abundant life.
The story begins in Matthew 14. The crowds have followed Jesus into a remote place. The sun’s going down and everyone’s getting hungry. The disciples want to send the crowds into town for dinner. Jesus has another idea – “you give them something to eat.” The reaction of the disciples is one that we would share if we were in their shoes, “We don’t have enough…”
When faced with obvious need, “we don’t have enough…” is our usual response. I’ve been guilty of that. We don’t have enough time, money, people, money, time…you get the idea. We’ve all been there and we’ve all uttered the same thing. But I love what Jesus does in light of their scarcity. Jesus says, “Bring them here to me.” Bring me your resources. Bring me what you do have. Then Jesus does what only he can do. He takes our limits and stretches them to meet the need.
This story is immediately followed by Peter walking on the water. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Peter and the other disciples are in a boat struggling against the storm and waves. They’re trying to get the other side of the lake to meet Jesus, but they’re stuck. So Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. Peter sees Jesus and wants to be where he is – out on the water. But Peter let his water walking certification lapse. So he says, “Jesus, if that’s you tell me to come to you on the water.” If I were Peter, I’d want Jesus to respond with something like, “No. Don’t worry about it. Stay in the boat and I’ll come to you. No need to get your feet wet.” But he doesn’t. Jesus’ response to Peter’s longing is simply – “Come.”
Now Peter has never walked on water but here’s what he has done: he has stepped out of a boat before. He was a fisherman, after all. He knows how to lift a leg over the side, set it down, and walk. So Peter does what he knows how to do. He gives Jesus what he already knows how to do. And Jesus does, in those moments, what only Jesus can do.
I’m convinced that this is a life truth. We give Jesus what we know how to do and Jesus takes it and does what only he can do!
Following Jesus is about being stretched. Left to ourselves, we usually see what we can’t accomplish. And that always limits the abundant life Jesus promises. Jesus stretches our faith when he says, “Give me what you do have” and I’ll take it and do an amazing thing. Abundant life is found out on the water – when we give Jesus what we know how to do and let him do with it what only he can do.
Last night I attended an event hosted by The Asservo Project (theasservoproject.org). The Asservo Project, based out of Pittsburgh, exists to combat global human trafficking. They are a David facing a Goliath. Human trafficking is currently one of the world’s most profitable criminal enterprises. There are 40 million victims globally. At $150 billion annually, this criminal enterprise makes more money than Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Netflix combined. Since 2010, human trafficking has grown 850%. Trafficking and sexual slavery is real. Open your eyes and it becomes so obvious.
This reality is so staggering I couldn’t help but think, “Jesus, we don’t have enough…” That’s all I could think about on the way home. How do you even make a dent? And I kept going back to this story. Jesus says, give me what you have/what you know how to do and I’ll do what only I can do.
So that’s my current next step. But what about you? You may not be passionate about ending human trafficking (I hope you will be) but there is something that you are passionate about. There is something that God is calling you to and you’re first response is “I don’t have enough…time, education, money, fill in the blank.”
But here’s the spiritual truth. The only way disciples grow is when they are stretched. When they say, “Jesus, I hear you, and I don’t know how I will accomplish this but I will give you what I know how to do and I’ll let you do what only you can do.”
Abundant life is found out on the water…so get out of the boat.