God Whispers

Nov 27, 2023
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Waiting for that still, quiet voice

It’s so easy to think up your own answer to a problem.

Too many people and not enough food! How many times have you been in that situation? I have to admit, I’ve been caught with that a few times. Very small servings of apple crumble, and thinned-down pumpkin soup have featured on my table, much to my horror.

Have you noticed how we usually try to solve problems using our own nicely thought up solutions? That’s what the disciples did in this story when Jesus gave them an out-of-the-box response . . .

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” 

Mark 6:35-36 (NIV)

When faced with catering for 5,000, these clever men suggested the crowds go find their own food. They were providing the obvious and rational solution to quite a problem.

It was an immediate response – they didn’t stop to consider Jesus may have a far more creative solution. I have to admit, very small servings of apple crumble was my best solution one wintry evening.

Just like the disciples, when I faced a problem, I automatically turned my mind to solving it. However, sometimes there is a way ahead which I did not expect nor plan. It is at those points of dire need, when things seem to have fallen apart, that miracles happen.

The BEST Plan?

It’s so easy to think up your own answer to a problem, and to look at it from a human perspective. To gather information and to analyse the best course of action – the most sensible path. Yep. Small serves!

To the disciples, they suggested what seemed to be the best plan. But did they come to the Master with the problem? No. It took Andrew, another of the disciples, to offer a different course of action.

… Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6:7-9 (NIV)

The unexpected extra in this scenario was one young boy with some dinner!

What a thoughtful and aware mother he had. There’s no mention of her in the story, but I bet she never even dreamt that the food she sent with her son was to be used for a miracle. Just as well she let her son go off to listen to Jesus that day – with food.

I wonder what my unexpected extra might have been if I had thought to come to Jesus with my apple crumble problem?

HOPE is always an option

Learnings for us

– Sometimes our nicely thought-out solutions leave little room for God to work.

– Creative answers will mostly come from unexpected sources. Perhaps it is wise to listen for God’s whisper before acting.

– Miracles always arrive when there is hardly any hope left. While we often ask for miracles, actually, requiring a miracle is a terrible position to be in!

– God’s capacity far, far exceeds our capacity.

– Mothers (and women in general) are often good at thinking ahead. Maybe I could have thought ahead a bit more with those apples.

– HOPE is always an option when Jesus is in the equation.

So, if you are facing a difficult problem – from scheduling issues and lack of resources; to financial hang-ups and not enough dessert – the best idea is to pray and wait for God’s still, small voice (see 1 Kings 19:12).

Rushing around and stressing about the outcome is usually a waste of time.

I wonder what would happen if you listened first, and then acted, whenever there was a difficulty? What would it mean for your family, your workplace and your friendships? Not to mention your meals?

If you listen to God’s whispers, perhaps you will find an unexpected solution, outside-the-box.

Jenny Baxter

Jenny Baxter is the State Director for EmpowHer*, and the Communications Manager for Tasmanian Baptists. She is married to Stephen, and they have five kids and six grandkids, spread from Hobart to Melbourne to Madrid!   

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