Summary: Part 1 of a Two Part Series on Using what God has given you.
(Slide 1) It was only a few years ago that I learned to swim.
This was after the boys had already learned to swim.
Their joy and enthusiasm in the pool gave me a boost that I finally needed to say, “I am going to learn to swim!’
So with goggles on, I learned to swim… in a hotel pool… underwater… with a breast stroke… (actually more like a frog stroke)
When I was about 10 or so, my parents joined a private lake club that had swimming lessons. I hated learning to try to swim in a lake… yuk!
After several lessons (and I remember learning to float on my back) I refused to go… and so for nearly 40 years, I often sat on the sidelines (or in the shallow end) while others had fun.
I was afraid.
At first, I was afraid of the water.
I had several scary experiences (again at a lake) when I was knocked down by some waves.
Yet over the years, I tried to learn to swim on my own. I remember one time, 30 years ago this summer, when I jumped in the deep end of the pool at the Salvation Army camp where I was working. It was for… our staff swim test…
Sputtering and flailing, a hand appeared (it was from one of the girls I was trying to impress and who happened to be the head lifeguard) and helped me get out. I worked hard that summer at trying to swim but ended up with pink eye and sat out the final weeks of the season along the side of the pool… out of the water.
As time passed, my fear of swimming changed. I was now afraid… of being left out by others who were in the pool… of being ashamed when others learned that I could not swim.
But, when in a hotel pool (and I cannot remember where it was), I simply gave myself to the water and dove in… I found my stroke and style and started swimming.
And, while I am not a great swimmer, one of my greatest fears, had been overcome.
(Slide 2) At this point in your life, what is your greatest fear? Why is it your greatest fear?
What have you done to overcome it? Have you overcome it? If not, why not?
For this Sunday and next, I am feeling very strongly led by God to focus on what we have already been given (time, talents, money) and the barriers (internal and external) (another name for ‘fear’) we daily face that often keep us from really stepping out in faith and living with and for the Lord.
I shared the story about swimming to illustrate a point – fear is a constant issue and a constant companion in life. In fact, John Ortberg reminds his readers that the most common command in the Bible is: (Slide 3) Fear Not.
I also want to make another point today. As we will see in our main text, (Slide 4) God calls us to give what we have not what we don’t. There is a relationship to our fears and giving what we have when Jesus invites us to give.
And our main text for this morning is Matthew 15:32-39 in which we read:
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the road.”
The disciples replied, “And where would we get enough food out here in the wilderness for all of them to eat?”
Jesus asked, “How many loaves of bread do you have?”
They replied, “Seven, and a few small fish.” So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, broke them into pieces, and gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.
They all ate until they were full, and when the scraps were picked up, there were seven large baskets of food left over! There were four thousand men who were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children. Then Jesus sent the people home, and he got into a boat and crossed over to the region of Magadan. (NLT)
One of my bad habits, which is being dealt with as I pay more attention to what I am reading as well as paying more attention to God while I am reading, is reading something into a text, from the Bible and other wise, that is not there. I have had this bad habit broken in this text, and its parallel, a chapter earlier where Jesus feeds the 4,000.