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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: PICNIC - deadline 7-12-12 @ 9:59 AM NY Time (07/05/12)

TITLE: Picnic for a Cause
By Edmond Ng


    Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, … and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, (Matthew 14:19 NAS)
Picnicking is one of the fun things many of us like to do as a family. According to Picnic-Basket.com, the perfect picnic is the result of careful planning to ensure everything is as much under control as possible. Four key areas to look at in making sure a picnic is as stress-free as it can be are people, location, food and equipment.

‘People’ refers to who are the people going on the picnic, the age groups, the number of people going, and who to be responsible for transportation. Knowing and identifying all these will help provide ideas of the kind of place and activities needed.

‘Location’ refers to picking a suitable place for the picnic, such as one near a play park if there are children or not too far from the car park if the ones going are elderly or mobility challenged.

‘Food’ refers to planning the right menu for the picnic. Is there anyone in the picnic party who has food allergies? Are there tables at the proposed picnic venue or will all of them be sitting on the ground to eat? If there are tables, catering can be more adventurous. If the intention is to eat with a blanket on the ground, then finger food will make the picnic more relaxed.

‘Equipment’ refers to taking enough flatware and silverware for each member going on the picnic, plus a couple of extra settings just in case. A large garbage bag for collecting all the scraps and empty packaging is important so that we can leave our picnic area the way we found it—or better.

Much unlike the way we plan for a picnic, in the days when our Lord was still here on earth, His teachings and preaching brought with Him multitudes of people following. The picnic they had together was in a desolate place and few have enough food for themselves. When Jesus told His disciples to give the crowd something to eat, they said to Him they have with them only five loaves and two fish. Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, with no blanket to lay or picnic tables to sit, Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food. After breaking the loaves, He gave them to the disciples to feed the crowd, and they all ate and were satisfied (Matthew 14:13-21).

What a contrast between the times of Jesus and the picnics we have today! While we diligently make plans for a gathering, whether it is for a picnic or a gospel event, we often do them without much thought of expecting the unexpected. Are we too careful with our plans that sometimes we forget what is more important—the reason for the get together? Do we in such gatherings find ways to express love for one another and share in common our love for Jesus, or are we too busy like Martha in preparing the essentials but not the most important (Luke 10:40-42)?

Let us keep a check on ourselves the purpose of our gatherings and picnicking to do what is most important—the building of relationship with God and man. If we are picnicking with the helpless, we do fine in providing them food, not only for their physical well-being, but also the spiritual. Jesus said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34). What about us? Is our food to do the will of God?

Dear Lord, thank You for setting an example for us to understand the purpose of our get together. We know Lord that while we enjoy picnicking, we need also to know the purpose behind such gatherings. Help us Lord to always show love one to another in bringing Your love to the world and be ready to expect the unexpected. Lead us Lord in coming up with new ways to reach out to those in need, that even through picnicking or other gatherings, in the sharing of food, we may touch and heal some souls. We love You Lord, and we want to share Your love with others too, for our food is to do Your will.

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Member Comments
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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/12/12
This devotion seriously brought tears to my eyes. I'm touched at how expertly you take us right to the heart of the matter. I suspect there will be several retellings of the fish and bread but you took it a step further and I so respect the lesson you taught me. You managed to show a modern example and compare it with what Jesus was really trying to show his people. Not that he can perform miracles but more that he knows what it feels like to be caught unprepared in life and then show us how faith can carry us through the obstacles in our paths. This is beautiful Bless you and thank you. :)
C D Swanson 07/13/12
Beautifully written, and filled with God's truth. It touched myheart. Thank you. God bless~
Noel Mitaxa 07/13/12
A good positive challenge.
Leola Ogle 07/16/12
Wonderful, wonderful look at God's Word! Well written and spoike to my heart! Good job! God bless!
Hiram Claudio07/18/12
I was SOOOO blessed by this! What a wonderful and power message.

I loved how you transitioned from the technical aspects of planning for a picnic to the example of the familiar story of the Lord with the 5 loaves and 2 fish (which until now I'd never really seen in terms of the setting of a picnic - but ti fits SO well). The challenge about the focus of our planning (the "Mary" versus "Martha" mindset) was brillant.

This was splendidly written. Thank you!