Bring them here to me

On resisting the urge to club our fellow needy humans over the head with a blunt object

I’m currently in rural Northern California. My wife, daughter, dog, and I came here in early June for a 2-week family visit and… We’re still here.

It’s so nice being a short drive from the Sierra Buttes, Lake Tahoe, and numerous alpine valleys and swimming holes. We end each day with dirty feet.

(During a pandemic, the dirt has a way of washing away what ails us — a divine dichotomy, indeed.)

And then… There’s family.

I don’t know what your family situation is like. Maybe you live with or close to family. Maybe they’re far away. Or maybe you’re like me and you have a small family.

My wife has a big family. When we were in Chicago, they lived 2,000 miles away.

As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. We’d see them once a year-ish and it was great. It was a big anticipated event. We got along so well.

I have to say, even though my inlaws only live a block away from our rental now, we still get along relatively well. I’m blessed.

But access to each other is so… Easy. Immediate. It’s family-on-demand. All the time.

Isn’t it interesting how humans want so badly to love each other and be good to one another, but the more we’re around each other, the more we want to club each other over the head with a blunt object?

Some of us are good (experts?) at fighting this urge, but I’m pretty sure it’s not just me who ponders it.

In the book of Matthew where the writer describes the feeding of the 5,000 — when the masses start following Jesus, the disciples get grumpy. They proverbially reach for their clubs and blunt objects to keep the riff-raff away from their guy.

“This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

This seems to be a common theme. The disciples are quite protective of Jesus. But Jesus always calls them out on their possessiveness.

“They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”

Hear that?…

YOU give them something to eat.

I can almost see Jesus saying that with a smirk. Instead of playing into their egoic games, he issues yet another impossible command to the stumbling disciples. I can see him smirking and then standing back to see them wiggle in their skin for a moment. They reply…

“We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.”

Riiight. Yep. Just as Jesus expected.
Time to swoop in with grace, as only He can…

“Bring them here to me.”

You know the rest of the story. He feeds more than 5,000 people (because, yes, we’re counting women and children these days).

I just love those words…
Bring them here to me.

Ahhhh… Can you feel the release? It’s as if to say…

You, dear human, release the inner grip on your proverbial blunt object. You cannot give them what they need. And it’s frustrating. So bring them here to me. Disavow yourself of the notion that you could provide everything to everyone or even anyone. All the time, energy, money, attention, emotional labor, loaves, fish, etc. that they need — it’s too much. Hand it all over to me. Let me do the work.

When we do that, our grips loosen, our hands open, and we assume a more relaxed, receptive, and surrendered posture. Our stern grimaces turn into warm smiles. We do what we can with a soft heart. And Christ does the rest. The masses become fed in various ways.

The math doesn’t pencil out. You and I couldn’t feed them.
But God is faithful.
Amen.