Chan Gin Kai
Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.)
But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. (Luke 9:12-15)
Jesus had spent several hours preaching and healing. As it got late, the Twelve asked him to send the crowd away to get food and lodging.
That was good thinking on the part of the Twelve. The people must be hungry and when night comes, they would all need shelter. With 5,000 men (and more if we count the women and children as well), they would have to be dispersed over many villages. No one village could take all of them. The Twelve had shown initiative. They analysed the situation practically and planned ahead, with consideration for the well being of the people.
But Jesus told his disciples, “You give them something to eat.” The Twelve have seen enough with Jesus, to not be surprised by his bewildering replies anymore. But they had to continue asking for practical reasons, “... unless we go and buy food for all the crowd.”
Jesus did not explain further, but gave instructions instead. The disciples did not ask further, but simply obeyed Jesus.
They had learnt as kids how God provided manna for the Israelites in the middle of the desert. They had seen Jesus perform many miracles. They wouldn’t know how Jesus is going to do it this time, but they knew they had no reason to doubt. They need only to obey.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Because the Twelve obeyed Jesus’ instructions, they witnessed another amazing miracle, and got a wonderful dinner too.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. (Luke 9:16-17)
Like the Twelve, many of us analyse situations practically, plan ahead and take initiative. The ability to do that, especially if it is done in consideration of others, is great. But do we leave room for miracles?
I like to analyse and strategise. I take pride in coming up with innovative solutions for problems. And I enjoy it even more if people get to be impacted by it. But sadly, I rely too much on myself and leave little room for God to work. I find it hard to trust God if I don’t see how a problem can be solved. I start doubting Him when He delays in answering my prayers. I need to adopt the attitude of the Twelve – simply obey.
But that's like the hardest thing for me, and the reason is obvious, my fears. I can't simply obey because I need to know why and I need to know how. It is true we can’t blindly obey others without asking why. What if they mean us harm? What if they’ve asked us to do something wrong or illegal? What if their instructions are not wise?
But we know that's not the case with God. We can obey Him without questions. He will never want us to do anything wrong or harmful to ourselves. And God’s ways are always wiser than our ways.
Like the Twelve, we’ve learnt from scriptures how God provides for his people. We’ve seen Jesus work miracles in our lives. We may not know how God is going to solve our problems and God may not even show us His plan, but we need to trust Him and simply obey His instructions.
Our questions should not hinder our trust, and our lack of understanding should not hamper our obedience. When everything can be solved practically, there is no room for miracles.
It may be hard to obey God when we don't know His plans. But that's where faith is required and miracles happen. He loves us and He will never fail us. We can and must learn to simply obey.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".