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What? !

In life and the kingdom of God, there are two equal realities, the reality of "what is" and the reality of "what if." We are all familiar with the "what is." It is what we know, what we are comfortable with, and the tangible reality we experience now. We are less familiar with "what if"… the potential for what could be and the hope for what will be. Because the gospel is all about transformation, we should always be people moving from the "what is" to the "what if." Life following Jesus is a constant challenge, with the power of heaven behind us, to live abundantly in the "what if." There is always a "what if "no matter where we are in our faith journey, there is always a "what if." I believe that because God is perpetually making things new in heaven, even when we are in heaven, we will still be thinking creatively as we move to greater levels of "what if."

The question that I want to pose is how do we move from "what is" to "what if"? While to fully move requires the carrying of the Holy Spirit, I believe that there are some steps that we can take responsibility for in getting there. In scripture, perhaps the story that demonstrates this movement the most is the story of the 5000. The "what is" is that there are well over 5,000 people who were very hungry after being with Jesus all day. The "what is" reality is that there was no food to feed them. The "what if" challenge was how on earth enough food would be given to these hungry people. As we read through the story in John 6, we see five different movements take us from "what is" to "what if."

1) Want "What If"! (Matthew 14:15)

While it would seem that it goes without saying, the fact that many of us are so stayed means that it is worth saying. If we want to move towards the dreams of God, we have to want them! In Matthew's telling of this story (14:15,) we read that the disciples desired to send the hungry away so that they could take care of themselves. They didn't want the responsibility, and they didn't want to spend the energy it would take to meet their need. If they had sent the crowds away, over the years, millions of people would have missed out on experiencing and hearing this miracle-working story. So, what about you? Do you want all that Jesus has for you? Are you content with where you are, or do you want the abundance that God offers to you?

2) Ask Difficult Questions.

In seeing the need, Jesus asks a tough question of Phillip, "How are we going to feed them." Phillip doesn't have an answer, but there is something significant in asking the question. We can never answer a question unless it is first asked. When questions are asked, our thinking is stimulated, creativity can be released, and innovation can come forth. Let me ask you - who asks you difficult questions that you don't have an answer to? We all need to be asked tough questions, even if we don't have the answers.

3) See what you've got and surrender it to Jesus.

The young boy didn't have much in terms of quantity and quality! (Josephus said that Barley Bread was "too vile for human consumption"!) But the power of the miracle doesn't rest in what the boy had; it begins with his willingness to surrender it. When Jesus shared the story of the poor widow whose little gift was so valuable to God because all she had told is that a lot of a little is worth far more than a little of a lot within the kingdom. If we want "what if," there is always something that we need to surrender.

4) Ask God to bless what you give to Him

Before Jesus distributed the food, he asked God to bless it in this story. At this stage in the process, God exponentially intervenes and accomplishes what we could never do in our natural power. The reality is that we cannot attain God-sized 'what if's on our own. To get there, we need to have the power of God do something. When we invest in God's Kingdom, God will always take care of our needs for his glory.

5) Prepare to celebrate the "New What is."

Notice how at the end of the story, Jesus sends the disciples to fill baskets with the leftovers! Can you imagine the joy on the disciples' faces as they pick up basket after scrapes? It would have been a defining moment that would have heralded the beginning of a new "what is."

We need to let "What Is" become "What was" as we move towards "What if."

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