Almost nothing

I miss talking to my father-in-law, Lonnie.

Lonnie could fix anything, and if there was anything he loved more than fixing things, it was helping you fix them. He devoted much of his retirement to serving churches and going on mission trips to help others fix things.

I would call Lonnie when I’d get stuck with something I was working on. Say, I was trying to replace a starter motor on an old car, and there was a bolt that I couldn’t get the wrench around.

“Did you pray about it?” Lonnie would ask.

Of course I hadn’t.

Outside of the resurrection, the only miracle mentioned in all four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, is the feeding of the 5000. In the Gospel of John, Jesus asked for Philip’s advice on what to do.

Philip had nothing.

Then Andrew spoke up. Andrew had found a boy with five small barley loaves and two fish. Think dinner rolls and sardines.

Almost nothing.

But with Jesus it was enough.

In his first miracle, Jesus involved some servants by telling them to fill some stone jars with water before turning the water into wine.

His last miracle in John 21 involved the disciples in a miraculous catch. “Bring some of the fish you caught,” he told them. But Jesus didn’t need their fish. He already had breakfast cooking. And wasn’t he the one who caught the fish?

There is a line in the great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” which goes, “We will not fear for God has willed his truth to triumph through us.”

Jesus doesn’t need us to do the miracle, but he chooses to work his power through us.

I wonder. Maybe my father-in-law was so good at fixing things because he was always aware of God’s presence, always willing to be the channel of God’s power.

What is more amazing, that Jesus can do miracles?

Or that Jesus chooses to perform his miracles through us, even if we bring almost nothing?

With Jesus, “almost nothing” can be quite enough.

Spitting Seeds

One of my wife’s favorite memories is of the evening she spent eating watermelon and spitting seeds off our front porch with our two boys. That was 28 years ago, when the boys were 7 and 9.

Our lives in the Air Force were nomadic, moving to the next assignment every couple years as I moved up the career ladder. When you move that often, you’re always in a hurry. You only have so much time to make your mark before you move again. We did our best to “make the most” of each new assignment and turned each move into a travel adventure.

So why would eating watermelon make the list of life memories?

Because every now and then you slow down long enough to take in the miracles in a moment.

There are the miracles of things like light and air and gravity. There’s the way the light reflects off things and enters the eye, which signals the brain, which makes sense of it all. The miracle of taste.

Seed spitting presupposes photosynthesis, the miracle of botanical growth, to say nothing of the miracles of farming, food distribution, and supermarkets.

And who can fathom the miracle of a mother’s love, and two rambunctious boys who began as tiny eggs in their mother’s womb?

And how is it they love each other?

Why does something so “simple” give so much joy?

What, after all, is more miraculous than these things that we call “ordinary?” OK, some things may be more spectacular—a lightning strike, a mountain vista—but more miraculous?

When asked by Moses to state his name for the record, God answered, “I am.” Not, “I will be.”

“I am.”

God is in every moment.

Ann Voskamp, in her book 1000 Gifts, asks, “In Christ, don’t we have everlasting existence?” 

Shouldn’t we live like we actually believe it?

If we’re immortal, and we are, what are we rushing for?