Sunday, April 24, 2011

Never Enough

By Jane Rubietta

An exhausting day, full of demanding people. Cranky as newborns, the disciples want only to be alone with Jesus. Nice thought, but a few thousand other cranky kvetching people also glom onto the Messiah. The sun moves toward the west. Bellies empty, replaced by growling. Both stomachs and attitudes.

“Send them away, Jesus, so they can go buy something to eat,” the disciples demand (Mark 6:36).

Jesus’ agenda intends more than filling people’s tummies. “You give them something to eat!”

Thrown back on their own resources, they shrug their shoulders, pull up almost-empty hands from near-empty pockets, and throw their protests like pennies on the table. “What, we’re supposed to spend a couple hundred denarii and feed these rascally people? Who invited them, anyway?” (my rendition, 6:37). You might as well ask a homeless person to throw a feast for everyone at the county fair on two-for-one day.

Jesus must grin. His followers are right where he wants them. He wants them to inventory of their resources. “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” (v. 38)

They go, they look, they return with five measly loaves of bread and a couple of fish—not even enough to feed the disciples, let alone the hungry masses. Talk about empty pockets.

Every day, we run into people with needs greater than our resources: they need more love than we have, more help than we can offer, more wisdom than we know, more handouts than we have hands. But Jesus’ message doesn’t change: “How many loaves do you have? Go look!”

I wish I really listened to these words, daily, rather than reacting from emptiness. Like the disciples, I never have enough money, wisdom, love, patience, or even food for the big hungry kids clomping through our house. Not enough fruits of the Spirit to fill a teacup, let alone feed a mauling mewing multitude. Cupboard inventory forces me to acknowledge my inability. I am not enough, I do not have enough, there is no way I am adequate.

Maybe Jesus grins here, saying, “Right. You’ll never have enough, be enough, do enough.” But we don’t know that until we come up like old Mother Hubbard. No bone for the dog, no bread for the mob.

The disciples come back with their pathetic rations. “This is all we have, Jesus. It just won’t work.” And we must do the same: “This is all the love, attention, time, patience that I can spare. All I have.” We turn over our puny loaves to Jesus, all our inadequacies and not-enoughnesses. Then we see him transform them into everything the crowd needs. Not because of us, or our giftedness, or the depth of our commitment or compassion. Because of Jesus.

So what’s in your breadbasket? Not enough, I’ll bet. But hand it over at the next tricky encounter, the next needy person, the next demanding event or contentious colleague. Watch Christ turn your not-enoughnesses into just enough, with a take-home sack besides.

Because it’s really a divine set-up. We are not smart enough, wise enough, loving enough, funny enough, patient enough. But with Jesus, never enough is always enough.

This first appeared in Indeed magazine. Reprinted with permission of author.
Jane Rubietta speaks internationally and is an award-winning author of 11 books, including her most recent, "Come Along: Journey to a More Intimate Faith." For more information, see

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