You know how it is when a memory just pops into your mind for no known reason? Such a memory came to me yesterday. It took me back to a bumpy bus ride in Central Asia. I had been to an open air market to purchase some fresh vegetables. Lugging my heavy bags, I boarded a local bus that would take me back home. The bus was packed full; standing room only. I squeezed through several people to make my way down the aisle. Then, as the bus lurched forward, I grabbed hold of the back of a seat to steady myself.
A mother and her little girl were sitting in the seat. The girl looked at me. I smiled. She smiled but buried her face in her mother’s shoulder for just a moment before peeking at me again. We played this little game for several seconds before she decided to eat what she was holding. I watched her take a bite of an extremely bruised apple. In fact, I told myself, it was a rotten apple. I could see no place on the apple’s surface that wasn’t brown and yucky looking. Even so, the little girl was happy enough and took another bite.
She kept glancing at me and I kept smiling in return. I watched as she whispered to her mother. Whatever the girl said, the mother nodded yes. Then the girl reached into their bag and took out another rotten apple. Smiling up at me she offered the apple. My stomach turned a flip. Ugh! I did not want a rotten apple! Even so, I accepted the apple to the girls’s delight.
I thanked her and started to put the apple into my own bag, but the girl’s face dropped. I realized she wanted me to eat the apple right then and there. I knew what I had to do. I turned the apple around and around in my hand looking for the least bruised spot. There weren’t any. So, smiling again at the waiting little girl, I put the apple to my mouth and took a bite. A huge smile lit up her face.
The little girl wanted to give me a gift. She gave me all she had to give. It wasn’t the best but it was given with the greatest of good intentions and with much joy.
Do you ever feel like you have nothing worthwhile to offer to God? Do you look around at others and conclude that they are more talented than you? Others, you tell yourself, have so much more to offer. You don’t even compare. All you have is equivalent to the rotten apple. Ever feel that way?
Remember the story in John 6? The crowds of people listening to Jesus had been there a long time. They had to be hungry but there were no towns close by to get food. The disciples told Jesus that the only food they could find was a boy’s lunch of a few fish and some bread. Everybody there knew that this lunch was a pitiful offering to take care of so many needs. Even so, what happened? It tells us in verse 11, “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people.” He did the same with the fish until everybody was fed. The boy gave what he had, inadequate as it was, and Jesus performed a miracle.
Jesus never changes. We must not forget that fact. You and I may feel that our gifts and abilities are inadequate. We may feel that our finances and material possessions don’t add up to much, but Jesus will always receive what you give. He can still multiple the loaves and fish of our lives, making them count for His Kingdom. It’s not what we give that matters but the attitude in which we give it.