I work as the Life Kids Team Coordinator at our church. This means that I am in charge of scheduling and onboarding team members for the children’s program. I love my job: it’s part time, I do it when I can, and I get to hang out with kids and the people who love them. But there is another side, which anyone who works in the church can attest to: the pressure to fill the holes and roles with bodies. And the stress when this job is not done.
As September of this year rolled around, we had no volunteers for our elementary class; yes, you read that right: none. As in zero, as in there would be 12-18 elementary aged kiddos showing up to an empty classroom to learn about Jesus. I was panicked. How in the world would I find eight able-bodied, Jesus-loving, kid-friendly people to fill these roles in seven days? Where would these people come from and how?
I told myself “pray about it, God will send the people.” However, in the back of my mind, I was rearranging classes, putting myself in that spot week after week, wondering who would mind filling in “just this once,” and on and on I went. And then my morning devotions one day stopped me in my tracks: the loaves and fishes.
It is a story we all have probably read, learned in Sunday school, or heard referenced in a sermon. There was no food for all the people, and then Jesus miraculously provided enough, plus extra, and everyone was satisfied. Praise the Lord for his provision, right? And then, it hit me, like a ton of bricks: I was the disciples in this story.
“Jesus, we gotta send the people home, there’s no food.”
“Jesus, we can’t have elementary class, there’s no volunteers.”
“Jesus, maybe we should end this service early so they can go to town before dark.”
“Jesus, maybe I should combine the classes so it’s chaos, but at least there are adults.”
“Jesus, why do we need this kid’s lunch, it’s simply not enough.”
“Jesus, why should I ask this one person, their help won’t be enough.”
I was trying to think my way out of a situation when God was simply asking me to have faith. I was praying the wrong things. I was praying for specific solutions to a problem, when maybe God was about to do a new thing. I didn’t need to use my logic, my control, my resources, I needed to hold the issue with open hands up to a God who could fix it. I needed to pray that the Lord’s will would be done, no matter what it looked like. And I needed to trust that he was in this, too. He loves these kids even more than I do, so He would make a way.
Now the Lord didn’t miraculously send 8 amazing volunteers my way, but through prayer, and trust, and showing up when there was no provision on a Sunday morning, He came through every time. And I could trust for these things because not only did I remember the miracle of the loaves and fishes, I remembered a time in our own church, where we had no volunteers, and it continued to work out.
In November of 2018, there was a devastating wildfire in our neighboring town of Paradise. The town was gone, including the schools, and parents were scrambling for childcare as they tried desperately to figure out what their lives would look like going forward. Following God’s call, our church threw together a kids camp in three hours, and the next day we began. In order to care for the amount of children we had coming through the door, we needed 80 volunteers every day: 80.
Every morning the volunteer coordinator and I would look at our sign-ups: 45, 30, 15. And somehow, by 8:30am when camp started, there were always 80. It was a miracle we couldn’t explain. One day a church from Sacramento decided to send their youth group. One day a group from Santa Cruz brought a van-load of their people. One day the cross country team for the local high school showed up. There were always volunteers. And we never prayed for these specific things, we simply prayed that God would make a way. We obediently said yes to provide a kids camp, and knew God would provide the how.
God will always provide. It may not look like 8 bright shining volunteers, or a truck-load of loaves and fishes. It might look like bland ordinary manna falling from heaven, or a few loaves and a couple fish. And through that kind of provision our faith can grow. Through a couple loaves and a few fish feeding multitudes, the disciples trust and faith in Jesus grew. Through 15 volunteers becoming 80 my faith and trust that God would take care of our children grew. And through my struggle to find volunteers to care for our kids, I consistently have to remind myself that God will provide, in His time, and in His ways.
Let’s stop trying to think our way out of a need for faith. I can make schedules, and shift people around, and make phone calls all day, but it’s got to start with a faith and trust that God will provide, even if my logic doesn’t play out.
In what areas of your life do you need to let go of logic, and pray that God will simply provide? In what areas do you need to let go of control, and let God take care of the outcome, and the path to get there? Start with honesty and repentance, and then watch God do His miraculous work.