Several years ago, I found myself wearing many hats. On any given day, I might have had to serve the function of a jungle gym, an elevator, a taxi driver, and a tour guide . . . and that was just after 5:00 PM! Before you begin to think that I was one of the original Wonder Twins from the 1970’s “Superfriends” television show or a raging lunatic, I need to explain. While I did not actually do any of those tasks vocationally, I performed their functions for my son, Joshua, when he was still in diapers.
When he was so small, Joshua found himself in situations of need frequently. If he wanted to climb and swing, he needs someone to climb on or to swing him around. If he wanted to go up one floor (from the floor of our sunken living room to the hallway leading to the rest of the house), he needed someone to lift him. If he wanted to get outside and see the world, I either drove the car or pushed the stroller. Because of his need, he cried out frequently needing help.
Now, as Joshua’s father, I loved wearing the hats he asked me to wear. As he has gotten older, there is just less he needs me for. No doubt, this will continue through the rest of his life. There will come a day when he will drive himself where he wants to go. There will come a day when he will no longer need me to boost him up so he can see. So before those days come, I am all too excited to hear him cry out in need. I love wearing all those hats to help meet them.
2,000 years ago, as Jesus was living on this earth and in the process of training His disciples (and by extension you and I who read of their experiences in the New Testament), He knew that a necessary component of a vibrant spiritual life would be a child-like sense of need. By virtue of our sinful tendencies and God’s lofty calling, spiritually speaking, by ourselves we are very small . . . therefore we frequently find ourselves in situations of great need. Our spiritual need is not partial, it is total. Jesus wanted His disciples to know this and that is why He leads them to a remote place among a hungry crowd to teach them a lesson.
In Luke 9:10-17 (also recorded in John 6:1-15), Jesus leads His disciples into the countryside among 5,000 men, not counting women and children. When it came time to eat, Jesus asked Phillip “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” This question is quite funny for Jesus to ask. Sure, Phillip grew up in the area in which John 6 and Luke 9 take place and most likely knew the whereabouts of all the grocery stores and restaurants nearby, but buying food for all these people would cost an amount far greater than the disciples had available to them. Even if Phillip knew of a grocery store next door, they would not be able to afford the cost of even giving everyone a light snack, much less a full dinner. Jesus asked this question, not because He was unaware of their financial situation, but because He wanted to “test him (Phillip), for He (Jesus) already knew what He was going to do (John 6:6).” Jesus had planned all along to provide the food for all of the crowd in a miraculous way, He just wanted to make sure that Phillip and the rest of the disciples recognized their need and thus could recognize God’s supernatural provision. In the end Jesus blesses a few fish and loaves so that it feeds everyone present with 12 basketfuls of leftovers! Jesus gave each of the 12 disciples their own basket full of reminders that He was able to meet any need – and then some!
As adults, we tend to see problems as things we need to fix, pay for, or solve. Since we think we are large, we tend to think we do not need or deserve any help, therefore we do not often cry out. We think that we are supposed to have the resources necessary to meet all of life’s demands all by ourselves. Any cry out is a sign of weakness, and might even bother God or have Him think less of us. If this is you, then remember that Jesus wants us to have child-like faith. This is the kind of faith that caused a small boy to offer a few measly fish and loaves to a hungry mob. Any adult would tell you the boys offering was not enough, but any adult who said this would be forgetting the One who would be doing the feeding.
Spiritually speaking, we are like toddlers with many needs requiring Someone who wears many hats to come to our rescue. We need Someone who can be a priest, a doctor, a counselor, and an empowerer every moment of our lives. When we realize this and cry out, Jesus hears our cries and comes to our rescue. In fact, He loves wearing the many hats we ask Him to wear because in this life we will never grow out of our state of dependence.
This Christmas season may we all worship Christ with a child-like sense of dependence on Him who was born in Bethlehem to wear many hats for you and me.