There was a period in my life when I didn't even bother to serve myself breakfast or lunch; sleep-deprived and in the constant swirl of meeting the needs of many small people, I often just slogged along through my days foraging left over bits of bread crusts, chicken nuggets, and peas—lots of peas—from my kids’ plates. Looking back, I can see what a terrible habit that was, but in the moment, it seemed perfectly normal to me to never expect to sit, be fed, and feel full because I was too busy serving the needs of others.
How often we fall into that same habit spiritually! I can easily hit a pace in my life where prayer and quiet and Sabbath rest come as scraps I grab as I run through life meeting everyone else’s needs, never giving myself permission to seek the true soul nourishment I need. No spiritual life can be sustained on a constant diet of scraps. And Jesus never intended for us to feed others while we starved ourselves.
He shows us that in today’s Gospel. In this story, Jesus feeds people. He was not expecting to feed them. He had not invited them to lunch. Yet he saw that they were hungry, and he longed to meet their need for nourishment—to feed them, and to fill them. The story alludes more than once to the fact that this was not a “grab what you can get and be thankful” kind of meal. Jesus, He spread a spacious table with room for everyone, for the story says “there was much grass in the place.” And everyone sat down and ate “as much as they wanted” until “they had eaten their full.”
You see, Jesus doesn't want you to make a habit of surviving on spiritual scraps, even in the busiest seasons of your life. He wants you to spread out your blanket in the sunshine and sit with Him, while He provides you all that you need to feel full and see that there is still plenty left for everyone else. Rather than passing yourself by to meet everyone else’s needs first, He longs for you to let Him fill you, nourish you, nurture you, until you have eaten your full. There is enough for you in Him. And there will be enough left over for those you serve to be fed too.
Let the Lord feed you today, and savor the goodness He has to offer and the feeling of being truly full.
Choose one meal today and take the time to serve yourself a full, filling plate—on your real dishes with your own fork or spoon. Sit and eat slowly. As you do, ask God to fill you too, with all the spiritual goodness you need to face your day and serve your people well.
Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five amazing sons here on earth. They serve in Costa Rica where they run the St. Francis Emmaus Center, a ministry that welcomes indigenous mothers into their home to provide them access to medical care, support and education in the weeks before and after the birth of a child. Find out more about her here.