Bag Of Tomatoes
I am remembering the old-fashioned, covered-dish gatherings at church I attended many times growing up. The ladies would bring a dish of home-cooked food. There were no plastic grocery containers on the table. No, it was filled with fresh corn, peas, green beans, casseroles and potato salad fresh from the community gardens. And who could ever forget the delicious fried chicken? When it was all put together on the table, it was a feast begging to be enjoyed. It was a delight to pick and choose whatever you wanted. Of course the favorite dishes were easy to spot because they were scraped clean, barely needing washing.
I find that I am more of a 2019 kind of participant than I like to admit. You know, the kind that brings what requires the least amount of time and trouble. Has anyone else ever bought the grocery store cake and put it on a pretty glass cake plate, pretending it was homemade? I don’t know why we think we will fool anyone because it’s not just the plastic container that gives it away, but the taste. Why not put in the time and effort to bring my best?
A recent coffee meeting stirred a question within.
“What do I bring to the table of the Lord?
As I sat down at the cozy corner table with my friend Carol, she handed me a little bag with three small tomatoes. “It’s not much Martha, but these are the first from my vines and I wanted you to have them.” She brought to the table what she had to share with me. Her first-fruits if you will. They were beautiful and I couldn’t wait to eat them. Tears filled my eyes as I saw a much deeper story unfolding.
The purpose of our meeting that day was more than coffee and tomatoes. God had put a desire within Carol for the messages spoken at Touching Hearts to spread beyond our walls. She had asked permission to pursue making this happen. Carol brought to the table a great desire that others know our God and experience Him like we are in our little corner of the world. She only had this bag of desire, but no clue how to accomplish it, but she knew people who knew people that knew what we needed to know.
In just a few weeks, the equipment was purchased and others brought their little bag of knowledge to the table. The computer savvy and techy ones came very willing to make this dream come true. When it was all spread out on the table it looked a lot like the old-fashioned church lunch. It doesn’t matter the size or amount, you just bring what you have. Bring your precious bag of tomatoes.
It’s kind of like the Bible story of the boy with the little bag of fish and bread. It was obviously not enough to feed the entire church gathered there that day. But then again, was it? It most definitely was when it was placed in the hands of the miracle maker.
"When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “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.”
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:13-21)
The disciples had the same issue that we do. They told Jesus, “We ONLY have 5 fish and 2 loaves of bread.” They were looking only at what they had, not at what Jesus could do with it.
It’s not WHAT we have; it’s in Whose hands we place it.
Jesus took what was made available and lifted it to the Father giving thanks for this offering. He blessed it, broke it and multiplied it and literally fed thousands. Not only was there enough that all were satisfied, there were even twelve baskets full of leftovers. Now that is a lot of to-go boxes!
What are you withholding from the table of the Lord?
Perhaps you have been trapped by these lies of the enemy.
“You have nothing to offer. That is so small and insignificant, so don’t even bother. God could never use that. It’s not enough to feed the crowd. Someone else can do it so much better.”
Oh, let’s crush those lies and believe God’s word here. When I bring my little bag to His big table it will explode and multiply to be more than enough to feed others.
Just bring what you have and share it.
Write the card of encouragement. Empty the trash. Sweep the porch. Buy the equipment. Give the single flower. Bake the casserole. Pick up a case of water. Make the phone call. Drive the vehicle. Share the love. Paint the wall. Purchase the book. Listen intently. Keep the baby. Buy the dollar store trinket for her just because it made you think of her. Invite for coffee. Pray the prayer. Pass the smile. Give the hug. Share the song. Write the story. Declare His Word.
Go Ahead! Bring your little bag of tomatoes!
(Because of Carol’s obedience and others willingness to help, Touching Hearts podcast will be open for subscription in the Fall 2019. The good news of Jesus will spread beyond our walls. As His word goes out, may thousands be fed as the Lord blesses it all. We long to fulfill our mission to help others live fully for the glory of God.)