It was all very well for mother to say “God will provide” as she sat listlessly on the edge of her bed, tired and weak, but surely it was he who was doing the providing!
Up before dawn, walking in the frosty morning air to the shore.
Digging in the cold mud by the ligtht of his small lamp for worms that seemed as listless as he felt and unlikely to wriggle enough to attract the interest of any curious fish.
But he had caught fish.
Twelve of them in all.
Ten of them a fairly good size but two that were just tiddlers.
By mid-morning he was in the local market place, bartering his 10 best fish.
A nice looking lady seemed to take pity on him and had offered him a barley loaf for 2 fish, well above the normal going rate, but he suspected she could see his own hunger and his anxiety.
Tramping back across the hills, the boy was pleased with his morning’s work, but still resentful.
How he wanted to go to school and learn, like his friends, about the whole wide world.
But his mother was sick and his father had been away for months; may even be dead for all anyone knew.
There was only him to head out each morning to find food for his sick mother and baby sister.
He sighed, looking down at his own dirty bare feet as he walked, lost in his own miserable thoughts, as he transferred his heavy basket to the other shoulder.
“Today I caught a fish
tonight we’ll eat the fish
and give thanks to God
for his provision
so that tomorrow
I have may the strength to
to catch another fish.
As he crested a small hill he saw a crowd.
What was this?
The boy immediately thought a fisherman must have drowned and this must be his funeral.
But as he grew closer he heard the voices – happy, excited, chattering with joy.
Who was this man at the centre of the crowd?
He began to speak; not loudly, but with certain authority.
A hush fell across the crowd.
Yet the boy
was still far off
and could not
hear the words.
But it must be important.
Looking at all the faces, men and women, old and young, all gazing it rapt attention, desperate to hear more.
Finally, the boy was close enough to hear, but all the man said was “You are hungry my friends. Let us share our food”.
Then the crowd began to murmur, and the murmuring turned to grumbling, and it became clear that nobody had any food.
At that moment a huge, tall man with a long curly beard spoke directly to the boy.
“Will you share what you have in your basket?” he asked.
The boy looked at the man, felt the warmth of his smile, and was unable to reply.
He’d worked hard for this food. his mother and his sister needed this food.
How could he share it with strangers and go home with an empty basket?
How could this man even ask?
As if reading his mind, the bearded man knelt down so that his eyes were level with the boy’s.
He pointed to the man at the centre of the crowd; the one they had all come to see, and said.
“Do you know who this is?
He is the Son of God.
Whatever you give
will return to you
“But my mother is sick,
and my sister is poorly.
What I carry
they will eat for a day”
“Your family will be fed and your family will be well”. the man replied.
He seemed so confident in his words.
He knew the truth of this miracle man who needed his fish and his barley loaves to feed his friends.
It seemed so little to give,
when so many were hungry.
But it was all he had.
And he had worked hard for it.
And would again tomorrow.
“And would again tomorrow … ” unless SOMETHING happened!
unless something changed.
He remembered the words of his own father, as he went away, seeking work, somewhere, a pack slung across his back:
“If you never take a risk, nothing ever changes.”
He looked at Andrew (for that was his name) and Andrew looked at the boy, struggling with his decision.
“Yes”, said the boy
the Son of God
my fish and bread”
And he handed over the basket.
And everything changed!
For Sandie – an agent of change (John 6:6)