It feels reckless to tell everyone that they’re “enough.”
Some people are terrible. Some people clearly should be trying harder.
And I’m not enough. My gifts aren’t enough. There is so much suffering and scarcity. What does “enough” mean when so many people are unfed?
Who are we to show up, as we are?
Who are we to say that we’re enough?
How dare we show up with our mistakes and inadequacies, as if we’re perfect?
How dare we bring our bag lunch to Jesus, as if it could feed five thousand people?
Who do we think we are?
A Kid With a Lunchbox
When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”… One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”
– John 6:5, 8-9
We’re entering five week of excurses in John, a breather from the madcap speed of Mark. While Mark jumps from event to event, John sits and simmers. While Mark’s Jesus is brashly casting out demons, John’s Jesus would rather curl up with a cup of tea and a philosophical discussion. John’s Jesus is a deep thinker, and in the next five weeks, we’ll explore some big theological ideas.
But before we get there, let’s look downward for the small things and the small people. Let’s look at this little boy, breathing hard in the hot sun, clutching his lunchbox and climbing the hill to the itinerant preacher.
What kind of a person sees five thousand hungry people and thinks, “oh, I should volunteer my lunch”?
Who does he think he is?
What Keeps Us From Showing Up?
We want to make sure that we have enough before we show up.
We want to make sure we’re perfect before we show up.
If we don’t have enough, and if we aren’t perfect, we bury our talent in the ground. We tell ourselves that we’ll try tomorrow, when circumstances are more favorable. We tell ourselves a lot of things to avoid our shame.
My gifts are too small to be useful. The world isn’t missing out when I’m silent. The world doesn’t need my bag lunch. There is too big a gap between what I want to bring and what I’m able to bring.
We feel all those gaps deep in our bones, and living with them hurts like hell. Some of us feel what Ira Glass calls the “taste gap” between our good taste and our imperfect work. Some of feel the “need gap” between what we have to offer and the needs of the world. We don’t want to show up until we can do it perfectly.
But it’s impossible to show up perfectly.
The only way to show up is exactly as we are.
Our only two choices are not showing up, and showing up to the raw hunger of the world with only a bag lunch we packed the night before.
What happens, though, when we show up despite feeling too small, too imperfect, too inadequate – what happens is the mystery of grace.
The Enoughness of Showing Up
When this kid refuses to factor in the gap between the need and what he had, and refuses to listen to his heart’s drumbeat of shame that says it’s ridiculous to offer something so inadequate – when this little boy shows up anyway, the not-enough that he had becomes enough.
Showing up is enough.
Enough is showing up.
You will never be perfect, friend. Thank God for that, because your imperfections in the hands of Christ bring in the Kingdom. When we show up with our inadequate lunchbox, grace explodes into the world.
Grace doesn’t come into the world in any other way.
Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.”
Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.”
So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.
Grace grows out of the rich soil of our imperfect offerings. Grace appears when we show up with our lunchboxes, despite how large the gap is between what we wish we were and who we are.
I want to hug you and remind you to be gentle with yourself. I want to remind you that it is OK to show up just exactly how you are. It’s OK that you are sometimes don’t make hay while the sun shines. It’s OK that you missed some important opportunities, that you’re “behind” your peers in your career, that you’re wrestling mental illness, that you haven’t turned into the person you dreamed you would be, that your gifts don’t make a lot of money or that your gifts aren’t recognized by your family or culture.
I want to remind you that it’s OK that you give up some days.
That it’s OK that you’re human.
That it’s not just OK, it’s enough.
Ours expectations of our future perfection can be crushing. But our God is not a God of crushing expectations. Our God gratefully accepts whatever gift we can bring up that hill today, gives thanks, and feeds the whole world with it.
When you get to the top of that hill, awkwardly shuffling your feet because you’re so nervous that you don’t have what it takes –
Our God laughs with joy, unconcerned with what you’re bringing or not bringing, because our God makes everything He touches “enough.”
Our God is just delighted to see you coming up this hill, friends, and He’ll take it from here.