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Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Five Loaves, Two Fish and a Mum (Who was Probably Sick of Making Lunches)

Cereal is my friend in the mornings. School lunches are not. 

Not that I hate making lunches or anything but, well, between the nut-free rule cutting out my kids’ favorite spreads, the Queensland heat knocking out a bunch more options and plain fussiness knocking out the rest, finding something (read that as anything) to put in the kids’ lunch boxes five days a week is a serious challenge. 

So yeah, not my favourite part of each morning. But, something that has to be done because, hey, kids need to be fed. 

I was thinking about school lunches when I read the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand last week (John 6:1-14). I know, I know, I should have been focused on reading my Bible but in this case, my distraction actually led to a big spiritual moment for me so it was probably good. 

Instead of thinking of the miracle, all I could think of was the mum who’d probably packed that boy’s lunch. Probably the same thing she did every morning. I don’t know what mums were like in Jesus’ time but I’m guessing their lists of things to do each day (every single day, over and over again) weren’t all that different from my own.

Cook dinner, make kids’ lunches, change nappies, do laundry, clean the house, wrack their brains for a thousand answers to, “Mum, I’m bored…” Day in, day out. 

I imagine that morning for her went something like mine… get up before everyone else, wake up kids, convince them breakfast really is a good thing, find their missing socks (in the sock basket, believe it or not), get lunches sorted, send them off to school, remind them again not to forget their lunch as they run out the door… 

She probably sat down, once her son had left, and tried to find a moment for herself amidst the craziness of the morning and her never-ending to-do list. I doubt she thought, even for an instant, that her faithfulness in making her son’s lunch that day and making sure he took it would impact so many people. 

I know, I’m probably being totally fanciful and, for all I know, the boy packed his own lunch. But what if it was his mum? What if she did it every single day? What if she was feeling down about her to-do list which just replenished itself every single day, never to be complete no matter how many hours she spent on it? 

What if, that day, Jesus didn’t only feed over five thousand people? 

What if he encouraged one mum that what she does every single day is important? The things she thinks are just another thing on the to-do list. Just another thing she does every single day which nobody notices because she really does do them every single day. That lunch she made, that moment of faithfulness, used not only to feed a multitude but be astounded over, told and retold by people the world over for millennia to come. All because she did her one little thing. Because she was faithful in the little things God had given her to do. 

Romans 12:1, The Message version, puts it like this: 

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your every day, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”

That every day life. Those things which don’t seem important. They’re worship too. God can use them. God does use them. Nothing you do is unimportant. 

The laundry you hung. The cushions you picked up. The rooms you tidied which were messy again the instant the kids breathed in them. The floor you swept, and swept, and swept and was still covered in crumbs at the end of the day. God noticed. He saw you. The first time, and the second, the third and the fiftieth. He noticed and he cared. About you. About every single one of those moments of faithfulness at the job he’s called you to do. Those little things you do for your kids, they matter. God can and does use them all. 

Even those dreaded school lunches.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

If I Were a Butterfly...

I’ve sung it a thousand times. Anyone who grew up in Sunday School or has taught young kids probably has. One of those oldies which we’ll probably still be singing kids for decades to come. Yep, The Butterfly Song. 

If I were a butterfly, I’d thank you, Lord, for giving me wings.
If I were a robin in a tree, I’d thank you, Lord, that I could sing.
If I were a fish in the sea, I’d wiggle my tail and I’d giggle with glee,
But I just thank you, Father, for making me me.

For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile,
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you, Father, for making me me.

It goes on to list other animals – elephants, kangaroos, an octopus and that crazy fuzzy wuzzy bear – and what they’d thank God for, but always comes back to the main chorus. That I thank God for making me me. 

Like I said, sung it a thousand times with probably a thousand different kids, but for some reason the truth of it just hit me last week. I think it was due to a combination of things – a verse I underlined in my morning Bible reading, an announcement I really wanted to be excited about on Facebook (and was, alongside the jealousy and wishing it was me) and a giant butterfly photo on a wall. Strange how they’d all come together to leave me praising God. 

The verse was Psalm 9:1-2. “I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart. I’m writing the book on your wonders. I’m whistling, laughing, jumping for joy. I’m singing your song, High God.” (The Message) 

Funny how up and down emotions can be. I was so excited when I read that verse and underlined it in the morning. Yes! I thought. That’s exactly me! I’m so awestruck by your wonders, God, and everything you’ve done and are doing in my life that I can’t keep it to myself. I’m writing the book on your wonders. Whistling, laughing, singing. What an incredible privilege to be able to write and have that book published and share with others the incredible hope you’ve given me!

And, not two hours later, I’m down again. Wishing that friend’s announcement was mine. Wishing I was in their shoes, with their story, praising God with their words. Kind of pathetic really. 

And then my family and I went to the museum and I saw that butterfly on the wall. I called my daughter over for a photo first, loving how she was the perfect height to stand right in the middle and ‘become’ the butterfly. Then my little, not quite tall enough but still totally cute, son wanted a go and my other daughter and then, just as we were leaving, I went back for a photo of my own. It was sweet. I liked it. And started singing the butterfly song to myself because, well, it was pretty engrained in my head after all those times singing it. 

But as I was singing it in my head, smiling at the photo of me pretending to be a butterfly, the words got to me and I realized just how thankful I really was to be me. That God hadn’t created me to be a butterfly with giant wings or a robin, singing its heart out in praise. That God hadn’t made me my friend, with her particular story, journey and beautiful book cover. I really was, right to the heart of me, singing and jumping for joy, thankful that God had made me me. 

Me, with my story. My journey. My family. My publishing house. My way of looking at the world. My way of praising God. My heart, my smile. The ones that God gave me. Not them. Me. 

God already has that person’s praise. He already has butterflies and robins and fuzzy, wuzzy bears praising him in their particular way. What he doesn’t have, if I’m too busy trying to be someone else or comparing myself to them, is me. My praise. The thousand reasons he’s given me to worship. 

If I were a butterfly, I’d thank you, God, for giving me wings… But I’m not. I’m me. Hannah Currie. And today, and always, I’m incredibly thankful that God made me me. 

What are you thankful for today? What has God given you that you alone can praise him for?