October 31 is a night when more people come to our front door than usual. Instead of vendors telling us what to buy, and campaigners encouraging us in how to vote, the individuals we meet are much shorter and costumed. They only want candy, and we’re all too happy to give it to them. One reason for our hospitality is that we’re expecting them – they’re not an interruption. We’ve been looking forward to their visit!
One day Jesus and the disciples tried to withdraw and have some time in private. They went to a solitary place, but the crowds found them anyway. It turned into a long day. The disciples were not prepared to feed 5000 men, along with women and children, and so that evening they said to Jesus, “‘This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’” (Matthew 14:15) We know from reading the 14th verse that Jesus felt compassion for the crowd and was engaged in healing the sick. His compassion that day eventually included the feeding of the multitude from five loaves of bread and two fish.
It’s hard to know what the disciples were thinking about the multitude. But watching the Lord take the resources on hand, pray with thanksgiving, and miraculously multiply the loaves and fishes would have impacted not only their view of Jesus, but their view of the crowd. Jesus saw the opportunity to reveal God’s love and power. The people were not an interruption to his day. The disciples were used by the Lord to feed thousands, and they had the privilege of gathering what was left over. They lost nothing, and gained so much in the process. It was because of the crowd they grew spiritually.
At times people knock on the doors of our hearts. They are dressed, not in costumes asking for candy, but in clothing of intense trials and huge challenges. It may be inconvenient to open the door. It may seem like an interruption. It may seem overwhelming. We wonder if we have the resources and the time to actually help. Wouldn’t it be easier to avoid opening the door? Henri Nouwen addressed this dilemma in a memorable way. “This is the great conversation in our life: to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the way in which God molds our hearts and prepares us.”
Right now someone may be knocking. God’s word tells us, “Dear friends, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (I John 3:18) As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” We will grow as followers of the Lord after we open the door and allow God to use us.
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com