I have a tendency to worry about things that have not happened yet. You know how people have a plan A and a plan B? Well, I have a plan A, B, and C as well as back up plans D, E, and F! I often find myself pondering the question, "What would I do if....or if...?"
Every year, I direct a retreat for our high school Confirmation students, and it is usually the most hectic time in my work calendar. The phones are always ringing, emails are accumulating, and sleep is almost impossible to come by. Year 2015 was the first time in four years I had ever gotten sick the days and weeks prior to the retreat. I was physically exhausted, and as much as I wanted to get my work done to prepare for the retreat, my body just wouldn't move. As I laid in bed trying to recover from the flu, the questions kept badgering me, "What if I am unable to process the rest of the registrations? What if I am too weak to meet with the leaders for the last retreat meeting? What if I'm still sick during the retreat and chaos ensues?!" As I was concocting my A-F plans for each of these questions and scenarios, anxiety and stress began creeping its way into my already fatigued state.
It took days of coming to work sick and coming home feeling even more beat up, when I finally sought God's help. I eagerly prayed, "God, I want to lead these youth to you through this retreat, but I am completely exhausted. Please, please! Multiply my efforts like you multiplied the loaves!!"
I have always enjoyed the story of Jesus multiplying the loaves for His hungry, five thousand followers (Luke 9:11-17). I would often ponder to myself, "Two fish, and five loaves...TWO fish and FIVE loaves? And TwElVe wicker baskets of leftovers?!" God, however, can take whatever we have- no matter how small the amount, no matter how weak we feel, no matter how poor or how untalented we may be- and multiply it. It is unfathomable what God can do with what we give Him!
In my moment of stress, His words spoke to my heart, "Carrell, do not worry. I am here, and you can count on me to multiply your efforts. Do you not see the work I am already doing?" As I took some time to reflect on these words, I began seeing all the ways He was already multiplying my efforts. Two days before the retreat, I was too weak to pack my car with all the supplies and food for the weekend. I quietly prayed for help, and bam, the retreat leaders were coming for their meeting and asked if I needed anything. "Perfect timing! I need your help loading my car!" I said with a grin. The day before the retreat, God helped me prioritize what needed to be done and what details I could let go of. Throughout the retreat, volunteers would show up and take care of everything I was too ill to do, and suddenly, my two fish and five loaves were multiplied!
So, the worst did happen- I was sick before the retreat, during, and after. It was the most gruelling month I've had, but surprisingly, it also turned out to be the most fruitful. I became increasingly more comfortable giving God my two fish and five loaves, and I have learned to trust that He truly will multiply it!
God wants to multiply your efforts. He wants to make His presence known. If you are truly seeking His will, you can trust that He is already working! We just have to be humble enough to ask for His help.
May God multiply your efforts like He multiplied the loaves, and may you be at peace knowing that God is already working!
* This piece was chosen for publication with Upper Room.