I am pretty sure that all of us will have read, or been taught about in Sunday School or church, Jesus’ famous miracle of feeding the 5000. It will have astounded us all at some point in our lives, as we read the story of 5 loaves and 3 fishes being used to provide a filling meal for all those hungry people, with 12 baskets left over at the end. But that is where the astonishment ends for most of us. At least it always has for me. Jesus did an amazing miracle and proved his power as the Son of God, but what is its significance to us today? Most of us will never be in the same position as Jesus, where we have 5000 people hanging on our every word, and where there are no food shops nearby that they can get dinner from (let’s face it, we are never more than a 10 minute walk from a convenience store, Macdonald’s, supermarket or takeaway!).
Well in 2013 I decided to write a list of my life goals. Things that range from travel ideas, to personal goals, to spiritual ones too. I was inspired by the book “The Circle Maker”, by Mark Batterson, which I had been reading during my baby’s nap times in a desperate bid to stay spiritually focussed when all I wanted to do every second of the day was sleep too! I found it a fun and interesting exercise to try to identify what my core interests and beliefs were and what challenges and goals I would like to take on over my life time. My husband and I have always wanted to be a beacon of hospitality, offering meals to as many as we can and letting people stay over for free when possible. This lead to us pondering, what hospitality challenges can we set ourselves and what can our goal be for it over the hopefully many years we have together?
I started off the batting with saying we should feed 100 people (it sounded like quite a big number!), but after carefully sitting down and counting up those who have been to our home for a meal in the 5 years we had been married we found the total was already in the 70’s, so that would not be a big enough challenge! 500 would be an easily achievable target given how well we had already done, so after much discussion I had a brainwave – if Jesus can feed 5000 people in ONE DAY, why can’t I feed 5000 over my lifetime?
I have not sat down to figure out the logistics of this, neither do I care really (I am sure that the statisticians amongst us would tell me how many people a week I need to invite over the average life expectancy). I trust that God will help me to invite the right people into my home at the right time so that I can reach this goal. And I hope that along the way I can provide food for such a tapestry of people that it is more rewarding for me than for them. I am hoping to invite friends, family and colleagues as well as strangers, neighbours and acquaintances. I hope that I really will be able to feed those who are hungry, as well as those who are spiritually hungry, and that both appetites can be filled in our home.
I see this not only as an act of hospitality towards others, but as an act of evangelism and discipleship. I would like for our home to reflect our passionate relationship with our loving Father (in decor and atmosphere), and that those who don’t know him would be overwhelmed by the love and warmth inside our four walls, and that those who do know him would be compelled to know him more. So I guess my challenge to you is this: Could you feed 5000? Are you setting goals for your life that a far too small? God loves big challenges and people who trust in him to reach these, so why not set yourself a goal that is far beyond your own reach. That way you and God can journey on through life to reach the goal together.