There was a night not so long ago where the only thing I could see in front of me was a long road of barriers. The way forward seemed impassible.
My husband was delayed more than an hour, and my patience with the kids was shot. Their whining and bickering was only matched by my exhausted irritation. There was nothing catastrophic happening, just the pressure of regular life building under a tight lid. I needed to let some steam escape before I blew it.
I was waiting at the front door when Chris walked in. Before the poor guy had a chance to set down his bag, I told him the kids were fed, teeth brushed, and I needed to take a walk around the block. Love you. Thank you. Goodbye.
Ugh. I was just done. The kids were only part of it. I was in the middle of an intense semester of graduate school and had recently taken on more responsibilities at work. I had moved into a season of juggling motherhood and education and finally a job that I loved. These were gifts. They brought me great satisfaction and deserved my full investment. I wanted to give each my best, but I felt like I was drowning in the bare minimum.
With dusky gray sky overhead, I let the evening air fill my lungs. One foot in front of the other. Step, step. Step, step. Deep breath. The rhythm of my feet helped move my heart toward Jesus. I was ready to pour out my overwhelm to Him.
Even in letting my tangled emotions unravel before the Lord, I still felt knotted up. Stuck.
I pulled out my phone to leave a voice message on Voxer for my friend Elise. I needed to process out loud the question banging on the walls of my heart. Elise has six children. Runs a ministry and business. If anyone would have an answer, it had to be her.
“What do you do when what you have to give is not enough for what is needed?” I pleaded into the phone.
With commitments made that I couldn’t break, deadlines looming, and practical needs (like dinner to eat and clean socks on feet), again I was in a place of “not enough.” Not enough time. Not enough energy and clarity. A wavering resolve to keep on keeping on.
With a two-hour time difference between California and Texas and nine kids between us, it’s typical that Elise and I will leave messages for one another and not be able to reply right away. But this time my friend was listening as I was spilling my weary heart, and she messaged me back immediately.
Her message could have said a lot of things. Elise could have complained about her own day. She could have commiserated with me and affirmed how right I was to feel overwhelmed. She could have compared my challenges to her own, which far outweighed the work-, school-, motherhood-heavy blessings I was carrying. Instead, she reminded me of the story of the five loaves and two fish. The story of when Jesus took what was not enough and made it more than enough.
I walked home as the sky glowed orange behind me.
The next morning, I woke up feeling like I was already drowning. Before my day even began, I felt doomed to defeat. Do you ever feel that way?
I got the kids off to school and couldn’t shake what Elise had said. “God can make your not enough into more than enough.”
I was familiar with the loaves-and-fishes Bible story. Jesus took a meager meal and fed five thousand people. Got it. Check. As a kid I had seen it played out on plenty of Sunday school flannelgraphs. But I didn’t see its immediate relevance to my situation. Apparently I needed to learn it again.
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
Matthew 14:15-20 (NIV)
Sitting at my kitchen desk that morning with a sink brimming with dishes behind me and piles of books and papers in front of me, it was like Jesus lifted my chin and said, See Me. See how I can take a total lack and turn it into total satisfaction.
Those five loaves and two fish leapt off the flannelgraph.
As a kid I wasn’t tuned into the full context of this story. Maybe the surrounding details are fuzzy in your mind too. Let’s briefly unpack the circumstances that led to this miracle-meal moment. Jesus and His disciples were in a remote location because they were trying to escape from the crowds. They needed a break from all their obligations. You see, John the Baptist—Jesus’ cousin, friend, and forerunner in ministry—had been murdered. Beheaded. Jesus and His friends were understandably distraught. They needed space to breathe and grieve. But people followed them anyway. Now a huge crowd was pressed together up against a mountain. Daylight was fading, and if they didn’t do something quickly, they would all be stranded there for the night without food.
No doubt Jesus and His disciples felt pressed from all sides. That’s a feeling I can relate to. You too?
What struck me reading the story this time was what preceded the miracle of multiplication: Jesus gave thanks. Before there was enough food to pass around, before the problem was solved or their predicament averted, Jesus looked up to heaven and gave thanks for what was already provided. Could I do the same?
That story changed my perspective on that hard day. It’s continuing to change all of my days as I allow God to reshape the way I think about my not-enough.
I’ve never had God give me an abundance of bread and fish, but I have experienced Him multiply my time, energy, joy, and creativity more times that I can count.
I’ve got a hunch you could use a miracle or two in your week. Can I encourage you to let Scripture be your perspective-setter?
Instead of focusing on your lack, first give thanks for what you already have. Then look to God. Eyes up to heaven. Surrender your heart to His best for you.
Remember that hungry, desperate, stuck crowd and how Jesus must have felt. Trust that when trials come your way and things don’t unfold the way you planned, your overwhelm is actually an opportunity to experience God’s power.
Let me say that again: Your overwhelm is an opportunity to experience God’s power.
Your not-enough is an invitation to receive His more-than-enough.
Your inadequacy is a chance to be filled up with God-confidence.
I know it rarely feels like it, but our lack is a gift. Jesus, help us to see and receive the gift!
This is an excerpt from No Better Mom for the Job by Becky Keife, due to release October 1. Copyright 2019 from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission. Sign up for a FREE chapter from Becky’s new book, HERE.
Trust that when trials come your way and things don’t unfold the way you planned, your overwhelm is actually an opportunity to experience God’s power. -@beckykeife: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
There’s a saying that goes: “Don’t put the cart before the horse.” Too often in life I get ahead of myself. My mind may be five miles down the road waiting for my body to catch up…not a good practice. When it comes to prayer, and in particular, prayers of thanksgiving, I think it’s a great practice to put “the cart before the horse.” In other words, do what Jesus did – offer thanks to God for what He is about to perform…watch Him work…and then thank Him again. It’s only taken me decades to learn that “thanksgiving” isn’t just reserved for after the fact. Instead, it’s an awesome way to invite God to do miracles…miracles like making your “not enough” more than enough. Terrific post. And by the way, Becky, you are doing an amazing job in this thing called Life! All the best on your new book!
Becky Keife says
Thank you, Bev! I’m always blessed by your words of encouragement. It’s a gift to know these words resonate with you.
Michele Morin says
Congratulations on your life-giving book, Becky!
Trusting that it will breathe grace into many women’s tired hearts.
Becky Keife says
Thank you, Michele! That’s my prayer too.
Alissa Coburn says
I have felt that way (and greeted my husband like that) more times than I can count. Thank you for the reminder today! I needed it.
Becky Keife says
Honestly needed these words myself today too. So glad this was meaningful to you, Alissa. xx
I cannot thank you enough for this devotional. It has come to me in a timely fashion.. Thank you
Please pray for a miracle, that. My loaves and fish be multiplied. For fiances, a new handicapped van for my husband and for future plans for myself.
Becky Keife says
Carolyn, praying this for you now…
Lord, please meet Carolyn today in her lack. Help her to see with fresh eyes what you’ve already provided and then trust you with a thankful heart to do a fresh miracle of multiplication. Please supply more than enough for her financial needs, a van for her husband, and hope-filled plans for the future. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Jolene Underwood says
Wow. This message strikes a chord today where I really needed it. What a powerful way of viewing God’s more than enough. It’s been a pretty rough week and I’m feeling all the weak and not-enough feelings. Needed this perspective and reminder to do the very thing I’ve sensed God nudging me towards for awhile now. Praise and thanks before miracles are seen. Thank you, Becky. Thank you.
Becky Keife says
Praying for you today, Jolene. God sees your needs and is ready and able to be the Great Gap-Filler! Trusting Him for that with you. xx
Kathy Cheek ~ First Breath of Morning Devotional says
There have been many times I have asked God to multiply what I have which is little, as He did the fish and loaves. Because I knew I was not enough, but He is! And more…so much more!
If you are interested in a short 4 week book club with some friends, neighbors, or ladies in your church, I hope you will visit me and check out my 4 Week Model for a book club with my own devotional book, First Breath of Morning: Where God Waits For You Every Day – A 90 Day Devotional.
Becky Keife says
Kathy, that sounds like a wonderful book club! May God bless your fellowship and study of His Word richly as you encourage other women. xx
Oh my, this was so timely! Thank you, Becky.
Becky Keife says
I’m so glad, Courtney!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
How often we don’t trust God or his word. We run to this person or that person. Or this healer. Say will you pray for me or with me. Or if I go this healing meeting to get healing for my sickness. I will get healed. We don’t first go to the main healer for healing for our sickness or problems. That means going to God his Word the Bible standing on the promises in it and prayer. Then listing to what his Holy Spirit has too say too us. Then doing what it says. It might tell us we need a Doctor as God gave us Doctors. If we are not well. God could heal us directly himself. But we have to do what his word the Bible says and stand on those promises in it first. Not be running hear and there. Plus prayer. Then if God tell us to get others to pray for us that is ok. As when we look at the woman with the issue of blood. She went stright to Jesus touch the hem of his clothes. She was healed. She went no where else. But to Jesus first. We should follow thoes examples. If we want our healing or if we need that miracle. As too many people who are saved wonder why they don’t get healed or get their miracle. If they stop running to this healer or this healer first or asking this person to pray for them first. But go to God first and see what he wants them to do. He will answer them by his Holy Spirit tell them what too do. If sick and do get healed this side of earth. Don’t give up you will get your miracle healing in Glory. I don’t know why some people don’t get healed this side of earth. But don’t take your eyes of Jesus. Ever please. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little
Becky Keife says
Yes, Dawn, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus alone, the author, healer, and perfector of our faith! Amen, sister.
Jim Swenson says
Wonderful post Becky!
Your story resonates with me and I believe that it can be applicable, not only to moms, but dad’s, grandparents and just anyone who is overwhelmed by their day, or even just life. Bravo!
Becky Keife says
Thank you, Jim! And yes, you’re so right. I share from my motherhood experience, but God’s Word and power are absolutely applicable to (and needed by!) every person in every life season. Thanks so much for your encouraging words.
Becky, I totally get the feeling of being inadequate. All the time! Especially now I have 5 kids I’m pulled from pillar to post. Thank you so much for the reminder
Lynda Armstrong says
God is always enough! However, having walked with God for sixty plus years, I believe at times he allows us to become overwhelmed rather than giving us more energy. In these times when He doesn’t multiply our time and strength, He may be asking us to reevaluate what we are doing, why we are doing it and is it really what He wants us to do. When God doesn’t give us more energy to keep running and running, maybe it’s His way of protecting us in the long run from burnout or maybe showing us an easier way to live. Stop, look (to God) and listen.
Jane Malec says
Lynda, your comments to Becky’s thoughtful post really strikes home with me. I too have been at this for awhile. I’ve been so hard on myself for never having enough. Women around me with children, multiple careers, caring for their parents or just having an active social life amaze and humble me. They also point to my failures .. my never-enoughs. It seems God wouldn’t give me enough energy or time to succeed in anything I started. Until several months ago, I had coffee with a new friend who shared her challenges with ADD. I wept with tears I never knew I had as I realized our struggles were the same. I know God has been trying to get my attention for years. All I needed to do was “stop, look (to God) and listen” which for me is the ultimate challenge but I know our loving God will be by my side through my new journey.
The timing of this post is not lost on me. I have had a week where there was not enough of me and yet, Jesus made it all
ok. He took a situation where I was not enough and worked it out perfectly! Thank you for these words Becky. I can’t wait to read the whole book!
Beth Williams says
Congratulations on your new book! It will help many moms out there. Life gets hard & crazy. We, especially women, tend to overextend ourselves. We think we have to do it all. We forget that we are mere humans needing time to breath & rest a bit. We need to start each day out by just praising & thanking God for His enough. Take a few minutes out of our busy schedules & just say thank you Lord for giving me the energy I need to accomplish all that you would have me to do today. Like Bev said put the cart before the horse & thank Him for what He’s going to do today. You will find a renewed energy to push through your tough schedule. Also you need to take a break in your day & just be alone with God. Get away from everything-maybe like you just take a walk & focus on your breathing. Let it out. Exhale the whole day. God will meet you there & calm those frazzled nerves.
Mary Geisen says
Thank you for pointing me back to the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. Now I see it in a new light too.
I’m a lot like Bev described above and I put the cart in front of the horse or I see the mountain but no way to get over it. How good is God to provide exactly what we need.
Becky you have the sweetest way of touching my heart with your words!
Jesus gave thanks.
Jesus gave thanks.
Jesus gave thanks.
Three little words with magnanimous meaning! I am beyond excited to read what other beautiful reminders and stories you have to share in your book! Congratulations, sweet sister!
Heidi Ambrose says
Getting back into the routine of school and sports for the 8 year-old and keeping up with a 2 year-old has had me feeling like I am running from here to there with little time to catch my breath. This is such a timely reminder! Thank you Becky! I am not sure I have really ever looked at this story that I have heard so many times from this perspective either. Of course now we are learning it from the grownup perspective rather than the kids. Funny how that works! 🙂
Martha Troxel says
This post was a big encouragement to me.
I love this Becky. I cannot do it without Jesus. Not the writing up to this point and not the finishing 3-4000 words I need. Not the referencing and not the provision of a job after. I can only do this all of it everyday everything….motherhood…happiness I can’t do, don’t want to do it….without him.
Have had many days lately where I feel overwhelmed before I even step out of bed. And I always loved this story as a child. Thank you for bringing it to life and helping us to see how it can apply to our situation. C
Thank you for this Becky. I really needed to read this today. Thanks for the encouragement to change my perspective and focus from my “not enough” in all aspects to the “all sufficient God” who has more than enough to carry everything that overwhelms me. Thank you so much.