TITLE: This Little Life
By Christine Dunn
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Reuben breathed a sigh of relief, as he caught a glimpse of the thin navy line of sea which glinted in front of his eyes.
“Phew! Nearly there.” he commented to his two young friends. He smiled as he watched Jacob and Josh trailing their feet up the dusty mountain track, comparing the excited scurry and chatter of the twins, as they had begun the journey early that morning. Reuben had listened intently, as they had tried to explain where the huge crowd in front of them were travelling.
“Jesus of Nazereth has arrived” Josh had beamed, watching Reuben’s vague expression. “You know, the man who healed the little boy at Cana, even though he had never met him.”
“ Dad says he made water turn into wine, at a wedding in the same area, a few weeks before that.” chirped Jacob, kicking a pebble through the sand.
Members of the crowd who passed by were also muttering amongst themselves.
“…can’t wait to see what he does today…”
“Move faster! I want to get a good space!”
It was going to be a long, uphill journey, yet Reuben’s heart beat in excitement at the thought of the day ahead.
Reuben’s stomach growled with hunger after the climb. He clutched his lunchbox close to his chest. He almost considered tucking into those loaves and fish Mum had packed for him, as an early feast. Yet his thoughts roamed elsewhere. He felt somewhat concerned at the fact that unlike the rest of the trekking crowd, he had not heard all these amazing details about a man who claimed to be God’s son. The stories that Josh and Jacob recalled to him fascinated and amazed him. If this man could truly do these things, what a privilege it would be to even see him from a distance!
“I can see him!” Some of Jacob’s earlier eagerness returned, as he pointed to a bearded figure engulfed by a swarm of people.
Reuben inspected the legendary individual, as they approached the sea. The man appeared tired and worn out, judging by his droopy eyes and the lines on his face. Yet he seemed to smile continually, as he placed his hands on the heads of some of those who surrounded him. The three boys gasped in amazement as one sickly man, carried through the crowd by pleading relatives, stood up and walked around, then began leaping through the multitude, singing praises to God.
The thousands who gathered, either cheered or stood in stunned silence, as the miracles continued. Finally, one of the men trying to control the crowd (a ‘disciple’ according to Jacob), ordered the crowd to sit down upon the nearby grass. Jesus was going to speak!
Reuben peeped his head between the adult figures, in order to keep Jesus in his sight. He had never listened so carefully before. Any previous hunger for the food which he had brought, was overtaken by a hunger for knowledge. Jesus was talking about how he had come to earth, as God’s son to save those who were lost. Reuben began to understand what he was saying. Yes! This must be the true Messiah that his family had awaited!
“I’m soooo hungry!” moaned Josh, rubbing his stomach.
The twins glanced enviously at the lunchbox Reuben had brought. Why hadn’t their Mum been so organized? Yet Reuben seemed oblivious to the crowd’s complaints and growing appetites, as they huddled together on the grass. He was too engrossed in watching his new hero. Jesus was talking to his disciples alone. The followers’ expressions were very concerned.
As he listened further, Reuben could hear one man complain, “ The nearest village is miles away. We can’t send these people there for food! What shall we do?”
He could see Jesus replying calmly, but couldn’t discern what he said. The followers were looking at each other in confusion. Some were now coming towards the crowd, calling out to them.
“Has anyone brought any food?”
They repeated the phrase over. As Reuben watched in fascination, he almost forgot about the lunch he had been given by his always-prepared-for-every-occasion Mum. As he caught Josh and Jacob staring at his box, he began to consider the use of two little fish and five barley loaves to this bellowing disciple. Perhaps he needed it for Jesus? After all those healings and teaching, the man must be starving after all! Without thinking, heart racing, Reuben clambered over the crowd. What he wouldn’t give to help his new Saviour!
“I’ve got some fish and bread!” He ran up to the disciple, named Phillip. Phillip gazed dubiously at the little box, opening it as Reuben handed it over. He sighed, yet ran over to show Jesus the food.
“Wow! Jesus has your lunch!” Josh gaped as the Messiah took two of the loaves in his hands.
“It’s just as well it wasn’t mine.” replied Jacob. “I would have had it eaten an hour ago!”
“Shhh…..” Reuben motioned to the boys. “What’s he doing?”
The mass of people were bowing their heads, and closing their eyes. Jesus was speaking again.
“Thank you Father for these loaves and fish given kindly by a child of faith. Please bless this food to our bodies. Amen.”
Our bodies? Jesus now gave each disciple a large basket. Reuben saw Phillip coming towards the crowd, passing the basket to each family sitting on the grass. A man picked a loaf, and a fish out of the basket. His daughter did the same. His wife picked out a fish, then a loaf. The basket was passed to the another family, then the next. Each time more food was taken out, and eaten by the famished audience.
By the time the basket arrived to the three boys, they were laughing in amazement. Reuben’s astonished face looked up at Phillip. He was speechless for a while.
Phillip patted him on the head. “Nothing is impossible with Jesus.” He answered.
“ When we give Him everything we have, He uses it for the best.”
Reuben stuck his hand, numbly into the basket. His wide eyes caught sight of the large amount of fish and loaves. If God can do this with my small lunch, he reflected, What could he do with my life?
The crowds were beginning to leave, as the three boys continued to talk about their wonderful experience. An older man tapped Reuben on the shoulder.
“Jesus has gone.” He informed him. “Phillip says he has travelled to a quieter place to pray to His Father.”
“I suppose we should leave then.” Reuben told Josh and Jacob.
As they dusted off their clothes, and began to head downhill, he felt a little disappointed that he could not see more of the Saviour. Yet Reuben felt within his heart, that Jesus was there! Although He could not be seen with his own eyes now, Jesus would be with him in every situation from this day on! He was so glad to have met with God’s son.
Reuben giggled mischievously to his two excited friends. “Wait ‘til Mum hears about how well her lunch was eaten today!”
Jacob and Josh nodded and laughed, in an identical manner.
“Well, at least it’s downhill now!” Reuben began to speed up in front of the twins. “Race you to the bottom!” As he sprinted furiously, he grinned at the thought of his perfect day. Two little loaves, and five little fish had fed a multitude. This little life would surely do great things for God.
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