11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. John 6:11-13 NIV
Part of our ministry at Blue Fire Legacy is providing care for those who pour into others’ lives frequently. Most often, this occurs in the spiritual and emotional realms, but it can also be done in the physical. One such occasion, we were hosting a family of 5 for a counseling intensive. The ministry not only provided a place for them to stay, but we also provided them with groceries due to extraordinary circumstances.
In order to do this, we had previously asked the family to provide us with a list of foods needed. Upon looking at the list, Mark and I both remarked, “This doesn’t look like enough food to feed the family for the length of time they will be here.” However, we decided not to supplement the list as we didn’t know the family well enough to be aware of specific food preferences or allergy concerns.
We stocked the fridge, freezer, and pantry areas prior to their arrival. They were appreciative to have the groceries readily available.
Upon their departure, they said, “We have some food left, can we give it to you?” We asked how that was even possible. “Did you go to the store and get more food?” They said they had only purchased snacks like chips and mini donuts, etc.
When they loaded up the extra food, there was still 2-3 lbs of chicken, 1 pound of ground turkey, 1 pound of ground beef, almost a full loaf of bread, full packages of tortillas and assorted fruits and vegetables. Short of them eating out several meals which would have been difficult in that particular location, there’s really no other explanation other than God multiplying the amount of food.
Not in a flamboyant way, like watching one package of meat on the counter become two, but more in the multiplication as it was prepared and consumed. God met the needs of two families in this. He graciously met their financial needs in supplying nutritious food, and then He blessed us in the same way.
The Wrong Prayer: Stretching vs Multiplying
On March 15, 2020, during the initial week of impact of the Corona virus pandemic in the United States, we went “down the hill” – aka drove down the mountain about an hour away – to the grocery store to get necessary supplies. Of course, we weren’t in the first wave of shoppers, so we found ourselves laughing through two different stores as we passed shelf after shelf that were completely bare. God taught us a long time ago that HE is THE Provider so it has almost become the norm to expect supernatural provision. We weren’t nervous or anxious. The absurdity of the situation pushed us to a place of laughter.
Although, we had plenty of toilet paper and we didn’t require cleaning products or lunch meat, we were hoping to get some ground beef and chicken. The meat section in one store consisted of turkey only and the other had an assortment of finer cuts of choice meats. Neither of those met our needs so we opted to do without a substitution.
I began asking the Lord to give me ways to creatively stretch the limited meat that we still had in our freezer and fridge. He stretched previous chicken leftovers into another complete meal with additional leftovers. However, He didn’t wait long before responding to my prayer, “You’re asking for the wrong thing. Ask me to multiply it.” So, I changed how I was praying about this matter.
The Answer in Multiplication
I began praying for Him to multiply our meat. Several days later, on March 21st, we received a surprise visit. Our visitor brought food. Four pounds of ground beef, some sausage, two huge jars of local honey, farm fresh eggs, and some oil. Later, we had someone give us specialty coffee, more eggs, and some fruit to boost our Vitamin C intake. On March 24th, I received another package of specialty coffee, and on March 27th, we received yet another provision of fresh produce in abundance.
We rejoiced in God’s provision and faithfulness. And then, there was more. Dear friends arrived with meat of various sorts, fresh fruit, bread, and other pantry fillers on April 4th. I was able to hold myself together until I started to express my thanks. At that point, my gratitude began leaking out in the form of tears.
When they left, she handed me a card. The card said, “Praying the God of miracles overwhelms you with His incredible goodness”. Then she had added a personalized note which included “Stay encouraged. Don’t grow weary – in due season we shall reap”! It had been a couple of very tiring weeks leading up to this. The Holy Spirit had her minister very specifically with those words.
As we shared the stories of God’s multiplication and provision with our friends, we got a couple of funny responses. One was that we should pray for Rib-eye steaks. (There’s another story there of God meeting a desire of Mark’s to have steak. Perhaps we’ll share on another occasion.) Another friend said, “I thought He just did that with fish and bread.”
Rejoicing in the Multiplication of Provision
We rejoice in each provision. The first story was no less a provision than the second. I know missionaries overseas have stories of food being multiplied inexplicably outside of God’s provision of multiplication, but this was the first time I was told to pray for the food to be multiplied. In His goodness, He supplied above and beyond what He instructed me to request from Him.
This is in agreement with God’s character. Remember the story about the loaves and fishes? He not only met the needs of the multitude, but there was excess that was gathered after their appetites were satisfied. He will provide for you, but maybe He’s waiting for you to adjust your request.
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