“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens
Something awesome, maybe unparalleled (for us), is happening in our church. Something exciting, engaging, and at times unprecedented. God is taking us somewhere I hadn’t anticipated, new directions, as He teaches us to trust. There is a moving of God’s Spirit that I can’t totally explain, but suffice to say is it both awesome and humbling. When things are going pretty well, the bar seems to get raised. A case in point: Feed the 5,000. I’ve been a part of numerous exciting initiatives at Northstar, including Bold Love. But Feed the 5,000 was one of the most truly amazing days in the life of our church. Amazing and stressful.
Ever since sometime in high school, I had been using the term “amazing day” to describe anything that made a day unusual, daring, faithful or bold. But none of those days even comes close to Feed the 5,000. All I can say is wow. I believe we are going to look back on that day and see it as one of the most pivotal and defining days in the life of our church. And the reasons are more profound than just what’s on the surface.
Let’s talk about what is easy to quantify first, the numbers. The semiofficial tallies are as follows: 100,000 pounds of food, approximately 8,500 people given two weeks of groceries and Thanksgiving dinner. Seven counties were involved as were all 3 Northstar locations. Over 600 volunteers. This was a major undertaking including logistics, coordination, scheduling, etc. The lines started early and grew longer by the moment. It was soon apparent that we had a major undertaking on our hands.
But, as I said, the profound truth of this day goes far beyond the numbers and it goes even beyond the great conversations we had with so many people. We showed them a different side of Christianity than what is so often portrayed in the media. Christianity is about serving and the fact is, we are never more like Jesus Christ than when we’re serving others. Saved people serve people. To serve others is to serve God at the highest level. And we served over 8,000 people in several hours.
We will never know the impact we had in the lives of people through the Feed 5,000 initiative. But God does. The project ended the way it began; on our knees praying that God’s will be done. God deserves all the honor and praise for who He is, as well as what He has done and is continually doing through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
I have a confession to make. I was stressed out on Saturday. Some of you who talked to me on Saturday probably came to that conclusion. I have seen God do amazing things at Northstar and I have learned to completely trust Him with everything in my life and in the life of the church. Still, as I walked around the Panama City campus on Saturday, I was stressed. I was taken back by the scope of the undertaking as well as worried that everything would go well. There was a a lot going on. Groceries were everywhere. Northstar volunteers were moving a mile a minute. People waiting for food were in a serpentine line that reached well back into the parking lot.
I thought for one brief second about running, not from God, but from the immensity of what was before me. But since our current series is about Jonah and a Life On The Run, I thought it unwise to do so. But then amidst the weight of the undertaking and the sense of unease I felt, I caught myself. “Whoooaaa’ was all I said, followed by a “sigh.” This is the time I should run to God.
There in front of me were hundreds of people working to serve God and the people in our community. It didn’t matter if there were a few details missed, or a truck was a little late. God would use this to His benefit. I would have kicked myself, but that would have been a little unseemly, not to mention physically difficult. The truth is, God is doing some amazing things in our church, city and world that most people may never hear about. At least for one day thousands of families will not have to fret about food for at least two weeks.
Feed 5,000 is a reminder to be in awe when we see God for who He is. The 19th century Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon said,”Man’s wonder grows with his knowledge.” Therefore, the more we know God, the more we are struck by His glory, His Love, and His Grace.
It is humbling to know that God uses our church to impact others. I am just starting to imagine next year’s Feed the ?????.