Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Life Lessons From Biblical Parents: The Lunch Packers

I am taking a chronological detour today in the spirit of back-to-school. 

When I was teaching at the Christian Academy, every year we would go to Orlando for a two day- one night teacher's convention.  It was one of my favorite times of the school year.  It was a time for the teachers to let their hair down, talk amongst each other, connect with teachers across the grade levels, and it was free for us(spouses were allowed to come, although, they had to pay for themselves).  At the conference, we would get to choose the seminars we would attend, and walk the many aisles of booths with teaching supplies, supplements, and books.
One year, the keynote speaker talked about the lunch packer in the account of the feeding of the 5,000 and how important that person was.  We all know this person was there in the account although this person is never mentioned or named. 

Let's look back at the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000.

Jesus had been speaking  and teaching a great multitude.  The time came for everyone to eat, but no one was prepared.  Jesus told the disciples to feed the multitude.  The disciples were perplexed.  Phillip told Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little." John 6:7.  Then Andrew said, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?"

And this is where we find the lunch packer.

When this boy headed out for the day, neither he nor his mother (who we are assuming is the lunch packer) knew that he would be involved in a major miracle that is retold in all four gospels.  As a mother, she probably wanted to make sure that her son had a sufficient lunch to give him the energy that he needed in order to enjoy his day of adventure.  Can you just hear her as her son is bounding out of the house, "And, Sweetheart, don't forget to take your lunch.  I packed a couple of fish and some bread for you.  Have a fun today, but make sure you are home in time for dinner."

So how can we as mothers relate to this woman who is the lunch packer?  She did what she did every day.  She made a lunch for her son, and probably continued doing what was on her agenda for the day.  When she sat down for lunch, she had no idea that the little lunch she had packed for her son would end up in the hands of the Lord and multiplied beyond her wildest expectations.

As women, we do what we do on a daily basis. We send our husbands off to work with lunch, feed the children, wash the clothes, teach our kids about the Lord never thinking that what we are doing will end up in the hands of the Lord.  All of the things that seem so meager and mundane to us can be greatly multiplied by the Lord as long as we are faithful in doing the little things that usually go unnoticed.  Will we always know how God is multiplying the fruits of our labor?  Maybe not.  But just because we do not see the mutliplication process does not mean that it is not happening.  We may never see the multiplication until we are in eternity.

This mother, the lunch packer, had no idea how the lunch she made was multiplied to feed 5,000 until her son came home that evening.  After working with children between 9 and 11 years old, I can only imagine they way he described to his mother what Jesus did- the sound affects, the big arm movements, the loud definitely-not-inside voice.

The Bible tells us that there were 12 baskets filled with left overs after everyone had eaten sufficiently.  Many times we just assume that there was one for each of the disciples, but the fish and bread weren't theirs to begin with.  What if (and I am using my imagination here) that little boy went home followed by eleven people, all carrying baskets, to a completely speechless mother?  What if that mother had just been  wondering where their next meal was going to come from, and then the main room of the house was suddenly filled with 12 baskets of bread?  What feeling must have filled her heart as she thought of the sometimes automatic chore of filling her son's lunch sack and how today her faithfulness had not gone unnoticed?

And it was all because she packed her son's lunch... just like she always did.

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