What I learned at the retreat did not come from any of the teaching sessions, or the worship, or the conversations this year, although they were all good.
What I learned came through the process of planning the retreat. It reminded me of a retreat the disciples went on with Jesus. They too, were at a remote place. But there were 5,000 men there, plus their women and children. Jesus was teaching them, but then that annoying detail arose…it was dinner time and they were far far away from any fast food places. The disciples came to Jesus with the issue. His answer was amazing.
Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." Matthew 14:16
Can’t you just see the disciples standing there with their mouths open? Yeah, right. We can’t do that.
That was how I felt at the retreat. There would be at least 100 people there, of all ages. They needed worship and teaching and child care and youth activities and social opportunities and recreational activities. And the people committed to the team? Well, there was me. And only me.
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. Matthew 14:17
And so that was my dilemma. I did not have enough. No nursery leader, no youth leader, no pastor even on Sunday. I only had my gifts and a the list of people who were paying to attend. Would they come through for the church, for the Body? I didn’t know, but I knew what I had to do.
“Bring them here to me," He said. Matthew 14:18
So I kept bringing it back to Jesus. My five loaves and two fish. And I’d put them at His feet and told Him, “This was not my idea. This is all about You. You have to come through for me or it will not happen. You are my only hope.”
They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. Matthew 14:20
And He did. The people all helped. It was a wonderful retreat, some said the best ever.
And so I learned it doesn’t matter what you have to start with. As long as you bring all that you have to Jesus, He can still feed the multitude.