Keep Showing Up

theatreSometimes living out God’s mission in and to the world simply means showing up. In the middle of a very emotional week about a week ago (Let’s cover those emotions with Oreos!–yeah, that’s a great idea.), this was advice from one of my colleagues: Keep showing up to let Jesus use you in ministry and to minister to you. So I did that. Until I arrived at a place that felt solid until further notice, I showed up.

It’s such simple advice, but it is by no means easy. There are about 17,000+ students on my campus , so the probability of me interacting with each of them is oh, pretty much zero. The reality is, I could have a really awesome conversation with a student and follow up with them, but if they choose–for whatever reason–not to re-up the conversation, I could literally never see them again in my life. Not exactly uplifting. And when you want to bring Jesus to every corner of the campus, the magnitude of this task is daunting.

Fortunately, I’m not alone. I have students who are profoundly missional, or have enormous potential. Even if they don’t think so, I see what you’re trying to hide there, and I’m comin’ for ya! They’re the ones who interact with their friends and classmates everyday, get involved in extracurricular activities, and then carry their college life home to their families at the end of the day. Their potential to tell the campus about Jesus is so much greater than mine will ever be.

But even more amazing than that, I’ve got Jesus backing me up. And as I was also reminded this week, “Jesus always backs up his witnesses.” In Mark 8, 1-10, Jesus feeds the 4,000 on the Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee. He’s already fed the 5,000 on the other side of the Sea, and now the Bread of Life is available to both Jew and Gentile alike. This is mind blowing enough, but what really caught my attention as I taught this passage in Bible Study this week is what Jesus does when he sees the hungry crowd. He calls his disciples over and asks, seven loaves

“How many loaves do you have?”

“Seven,” they replied.

Notice how Jesus gets his disciples involved. In a situation where Jesus could have just said, “Okay, this is what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna multiply this bread up to wahzoo, and you’re gonna distribute it to the crowd, capiche?”, Jesus asks them about their resources–how many loaves do they have–instead of highlighting his.

As the disciples looked out over the massive crowd, their resources must have seemed inadequate to say the least. Puny. Essentially nonexistent. Why did they come here? Why would they want to give what little they have to a group of people they don’t even like?!

But the disciples give Jesus their seven tiny loaves, and Jesus ignores the laws of physics, multiplies the bread and a few fish so that it’s enough to feed the entire crowd. No, wait. It’s enough to feed the entire crowd and have seven baskets of leftovers. Too bad I’m not a fan of fish.

The disciples’ offering was pitiful in their eyes. But here they were, with a little bit of bread. They’d showed up. And in Jesus’ eyes, what they had was enough. They had seven loaves. In Scripture, that’s the number of perfection. What the disciples had to offer Jesus was perfect. It was enough. What you and I have to offer Jesus is perfect. It’s enough. So keep showing up. Keep showing up at work, keep showing up for your physical health, keep showing up with your writing (cough, cough), keep showing up for your family, keep showing up to the things you know God is calling you to do. Even when it seems impossible. Even when it seems like what you have isn’t enough.

Just as Jesus wanted to use the disciples to show the greatness of his kingdom on earth, he wants to do the same with you and me. Jesus wants to use you. So keep showing up. Faithfully give the Lord whatever resources you have. You never know when God is gonna do something awesome.

How about you? Where do you find it difficult to show up? Where do you find your motivation? What resources is God asking you for?

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3 thoughts on “Keep Showing Up

  1. I think I find it difficult to show up where I am supposed to get fed. I know God always gives me enough, and I keep trying my best to do the things I have to do so that I can do the things that I feel are my best ministry, but I sometimes find myself showing up in places where, it seems to me, others could do this stuff just fine. It is the challenge of believing that I am called by God’s Church, and therefore by God–which means that I should have or be able to find enough resources to do all those things that don’t feel like the best use of me that I am called to do anyhow. I wonder if it is the difference between “Church”–body of Christ, spiritual and physical reality that transcends time and space–and “church”–the local, institutional body. I think that, sometimes, the latter takes advantage of the former. But, I do what I can and get through. I just wonder where I’m not showing up because of the places where I do.

    • James, you bring up a very good point, and an unfortunate reality. At some point after hitting your head against a brick wall for the umpteenth time, one does wonder if God is trying to tell them something. And then there’s that whole variable of “Just because things aren’t going well doesn’t mean you’re not doing God’s will.” It can definitely be frustrating and discouraging, and requires much discernment. At this point in time, I know I am where I’m supposed to be, but it was difficult to “show up” because of things going on. You are surely in my prayers.

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