Time Crunch: When He Creates Abundance from Scarcity
“Everybody, just tell us a bit about yourselves, like how many kids you have and what your hobbies are.” As a new Bible study leader, this seemed like a typical icebreaker to me. What I hadn’t considered was that my group consisted of brand new mamas. One by one, they glanced down at their babes-in-arms, looked up at me blankly, and said, “Uh, I don’t really have any hobbies.”
Scarce in Resources
How quickly I’d forgotten. My youngest is in kindergarten, and now that my kids can dress, feed, and bathe themselves with varying degrees of independence, I guess I’d forgotten what it was like. It wasn’t so long ago that I was sitting on my couch nursing my tiniest, with my oldest at the counter top asking for homework help and my potty-trainer beckoning from the bathroom to be wiped…all at the same time. I truly was in a season when I could not meet all the demands on me at a given time.
And, as my Bible study ladies would remind me, hobbies aren’t all that suffer neglect when time is scant. A common theme has emerged in our conversations and prayer requests: How can they cultivate (and how can I encourage) fruitful, dedicated Bible study time when they might not even know if they’re going to shower or sleep well on any given day? It seems like the resources just aren’t there. And it’s not just new mothers struggling in this area. Changes in studies, work, and family responsibilities can create seasons when this much-needed time is scarce.
Now, I could offer time-saving tips, or a chastisement or platitude about “If it’s truly important to you, you’ll just do it.” Instead, I’d like to offer an insight into how the character of God encourages me in this area. After all, no matter how carefully you plan your day, or how well you prioritize your responsibilities, there are still days when ample, distraction-free time to bask in the Word and prayer seems impossible. So, what hope is there when all you have to offer are crumbs of time, attention, and energy?
Plentiful in Grace
When Jesus expressed a desire to feed a hungry crowd of over 5,000 people, his disciples only saw their insufficiency to the task (John 6:5-13). “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” declared Philip. Andrew found a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, “but how far will they go among so many?” he lamented.
They likely would have just thrown up their hands at their lack of resources, driving the people away, except that Jesus had a different plan. He took the loaves and fishes, insufficient and humble though they were, and he multiplied them. And not just to the point of being enough, but until everyone had “as much as they wanted,” and there were twelve baskets of leftovers.
Following this, he challenged the crowd to see that his miracle with the loaves and fishes served as a shadow for something greater and longer lasting. “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:27). This food is Jesus, the true bread of life (John 6:35).
Sufficiency for Every Need
The people saw their physical need for food, but even when supplied with that, they would still die, as will we all. This is because all of creation is in bondage to decay from which it needs liberation (Romans 8:20-21). This need for salvation is met, never by our works, but by our belief in the one God has sent (John 6:28-29). By giving of his own flesh and blood on the cross as a perfect sacrifice for sinful people, Jesus’ sufficiency replaces our insufficiency and offers eternal life for those who partake of it (John 6:53-57, 1 Peter 3:18).
Jesus’s willingness to be the bread of life was not just for the day you first believed or for the future. It is for today. This means that he is willing to multiply your meager resources now.
Think about how sad it would have been if the disciples’ recognition of their insufficiency and the insufficiency of the crowd had won the day, and the people were sent away, their hunger not met. Don’t go away hungry. We serve a God who graciously multiplies, and you can prayerfully give your “loaves and fish,” no matter how small, to our God who is faithful to meet your every need to abundance.
So, when you find that your time and energy are just not enough or not of the quality you’d prefer, and you can’t imagine that what you have is enough for meaningful time in Bible study and prayer, you don’t have to despair and “throw away” those pockets of time. Instead, you can give them as a humble offering to God. The Bread of Life will multiply them abundantly.