Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother said, “Here’s a boy with five loaves of barley bread and two little fish. But how far will they go among so many people?”
Sometimes at night, when the wolves were howling on Still Peak, our old dog, Ivan the Terrible, would join in. Some deep, primal memory told him he was part of the pack. Pointing his nose to the night sky, he would reply with a lonesome howl.
But Ivan never sounded like a wolf. He sounded like a cow trying to yodel.
Ivan the Terrible died this last summer, but I always envied him when he would sing. I didn’t envy him because he was good – he was so bad as to make you wince – but he howled nonetheless. I’m afraid to sing in public. What if I’m off-key? Ivan, on the other hand, never worried what he sounded like – he just gave you what he had.
“Use what talents you possess,“ Henry Van Dyke said, “the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”
And, yeah, I know William Purkey’s words can be misconstrued, but I like them anyway: “Dance like no one is watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like no one is listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.”
But, hey, if we don’t attempt something, at least we won’t fail, right? Who’s going to laugh at our clumsiness if we don’t join in the dance?
It turns out our common notions about this are completely backward. The well-known psychologist, Karen Horney, discovered that, if you do not attempt to do something, you will usually have the self-impression you have failed. Horney claims that, by simply attempting to do something, we will almost always conclude that you have succeeded.
It’s not about performance; it’s about trying.
All the same, we often define ourselves by our limitations. How many times have you found yourself lamenting, “I wish there was more I could do?”
But the Lord only expects you to use the gifts he’s given you, to offer what you have – and not worry about what you don’t have.
Once, a young boy had little to offer Jesus. Just five loaves of barley bread and a couple of small fish. Not much, but he gave what he had.
Yet, in the hands of Jesus, it was plenty.
Don’t focus on the talents you don’t have, the money you don’t have, the opportunities you don’t have. The only thing that matters to Jesus is using what you’ve got.
It’ll be enough.