Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Grace Greater Than Our Sin"1 (Lyrics)
Yesterday, God answered a question that I had asked in a moment of discouragement over 42 years ago — and I was blessed beyond words!
A friend and I had taken Bibles with us into Russia, even though it involved considerable danger, because doing so was strictly prohibited at that time. The Lord led us through several obstacles to a tiny church where we gave them to the overjoyed pastors.
I vividly recall watching in horror as they began to tear out page after page and place them in piles. On noticing my expression, they quickly explained that these would be distributed to the members of their congregation, who would copy out each page and then pass them along for others to copy. In such a way, the Word of God was spread among the believers who were so hungry for His Word.
As we left that church, teenagers crowded around me with tears streaming down their faces, crying words that would haunt me for many years. "Young people never get Bibles — only old people." I remember the feeling of futility that engulfed me. What was the point of it all? It had taken a lot of planning and a high degree of risk, and for what? What were so few Bibles among so many?
Yesterday, as I shared this story with a group of ladies in a seniors' residence, the Lord gave me my answer with reference to the miracle of feeding the hungry crowd that had gathered in the wilderness to listen to Jesus. When the disciples suggested that they be sent away to get something to eat before they fainted from hunger, Jesus replied, "You give them something to eat." (Luke 9:13 NIV)
John 6:8-9 – Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" (NIV)
Luke 9:16-17 – Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, [Jesus] gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. (NIV)
Suddenly a light went on. When the pages were torn from those few Bibles and their words were copied over and over again, their message was multiplied, just as the loaves and fishes had been, and many thousands would eventually be fed. My part was in simply being obedient to His direction to take the Bibles to the pastors in Russia (my five loaves and two fish).
As for my question, "What were so few Bibles among so many?" one day, I shall know, when I meet the untold number of recipients who were fed by these precious words of the gospel. In the meantime, my heart can rejoice.
I'm sure that we all have days when we wonder exactly what effect all our efforts and dedication will have in glorifying God or extending His kingdom. Such days can be discouraging, and when months or years go by, and we see no concrete results, we may even be tempted to give up. Next time this happens to you, think back on this account. Hopefully you will see, as I did, when our all is in the Master's hands for Him to bless and break, miracles will happen.
Prayer: Father of understanding and compassion, we are so grateful that You know us inside out. Be with us when doubts and questions assail us. Lift our failing spirits, and give us Your encouraging smile, so that we will keep on keeping on, until that day when we will hear Your loving words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Amen.