Just a lad

“One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?'” (John 6:8-9 NKJV).

We were trying to reach Samalbung in the middle hills of Ilam district in extreme eastern Nepal. The problem was that the dirt road, over very rugged hilly country, was washed out and rutted from the monsoon rains which had recently ended.

Work on grading and repairing the road had barely begun. Sure enough, we found a wet spot and soon bogged down, well stuck and not able to go either forward or backward.

After struggling to put dry dirt, rocks and other materials in the ruts for more than an hour, a teenage boy came by us, leading a pony. He stood and watched us for a few minutes, then went on up the hill.

Several minutes later two men came down on motorcycles. They turned out to be policemen, who saw our predicament and called the owner of a nearby factory who then sent his tractor to pull us out.

All this seemed to be at the initiative of the boy who first saw our need and informed others who had resources to help.

The only miracle of Jesus that is recorded by all four New Testament Evangelists is the feeding of the five thousand. Of the four accounts my favorite is John’s, especially because he tells us about the lad who provided the fish and bread, which Jesus multiplied to become a great feast.

He was “just a lad,” who had only a little food. But he shared what he had and Jesus used it to feed a multitude. Even Andrew who brought news of the boy’s meager supplies to Jesus wondered, “What are they among so many?”

Only Jesus knew their ultimate potential.

When the boy with the pony stopped to watch our struggles with the mud I was not much impressed. Had he been leading several ponies, or even one or two large horses I might have thought they could pull us out.

But though the idea occurred to me, I immediately dismissed it, thinking, “What good is such a small animal when our vehicle is large and heavy and the mud so deep?”

But the local boy knew things I did not know. He knew there were policemen nearby. They knew where a tractor could be found, and they had influence with its owner. Between all of them our problem was soon solved.

We often quote, “God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform,” but we are still surprised when those ways unfold before us. Somehow we never see the solution coming; we never understand the potential possessed by “just a lad.”

When will we finally realize that the potential is not truly in the lad? He is merely God’s instrument. The potential is always with God, and his is infinite and inexhaustible.

“Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 4:20-21).

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