Five Loaves, Two Fish, and a Pan of Mac & Cheese
The following is a true story . . .
Freshly married for one year and having recently arrived back from studying in Canada, we called a 10 x 50-foot mobile home–home! I was enrolled at Ohio State University, and the mobile home park was close enough for me to ride my bike to school, and it was a cheap place to live. Being that students are generally poor, we were no different.
My wife had a job teaching, but all her money went into my schooling and our living expenses. Despite the lack of money, we always enjoyed having friends over for a meal. And we really enjoyed having new friends over because we had a train track about forty feet behind our trailer. If you’ve never lived right next to a train track in a mobile home, you’ve never had the experience of feeling like the train was passing right through the middle of your living room!!
The effect was best when we had someone new and served them soup when we knew a train would be passing by on one of their scheduled runs. First, the vibration from the coming train would form little rings in their soup bowl; then they would start feeling the vibration in their chairs and look at us. My wife and I would look at each other with this really worried look. In a sudden avalanche of vibration, the train would come tearing down through the middle of our kitchen! At least it felt that way to them! Our friends would be on their feet ready to run when my wife and I would start laughing!
One time we had a former college friend and his wife staying with us, and it clearly took them a few days to get use to the train! We didn’t have much food then, but we were always happy to share what we had. In the kitchen cabinet, I found two boxes of Mac & Cheese, and I thought to myself, “That’s just the right amount for the four of us.” We often made that a dinner all by itself when we needed a quick meal. After praying over the food, it was pretty informal eating, and we all grabbed a bowl, helped ourselves, and found some place to sit. Right about then, one of my friends from school popped in, and I told him to grab a bowl and help himself.
While eating, another friend from our church stopped by to say, “Hi,” and he grabbed a bowl, too. I was hoping there was still some Mac & Cheese left for him. Then I promptly forgot my concern when my “crazy” friend from across town just happened to drop by and helped himself like usual to whatever we were eating. This was normal for us to have friends pop in without notice. While I went back for seconds, we all heard a train coming, stopped talking, and waited for the cheap amusement ride to violently shake the mobile home. The train passed, we all laughed, and went back to eating. The couple staying with us also went back for more Mac & Cheese, and as I sat down, my friend asked if he could have more. “Sure! Help yourself!” I said.
We were all talking, eating, laughing, sharing about the Lord’s work in our lives, and having a great time as good friends do. Later, I accidentally kicked over my empty bowl and noticed everyone else was finished eating too. Collecting all the bowls, I put them in the sink in the kitchen and grabbed the pan of Mac & Cheese off the stove to rinse out the empty pan. I stopped. The pan was still half full! I looked in the living room. There were seven adults, and most of them had second helpings, and I had a third! I said to myself, “This is impossible!” In complete wonder, I scooped out some Mac & Cheese to see if more would appear! It didn’t, but there we were, all full, and with half a pan of Mac & Cheese left over!
“15. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” 16. Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17. “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. 18. “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”
Matthew 14:15-21 (NIV)
Post Script: On telling this story one time, a couple approached me and said that they too had the same experience once–only it was with a pot of chili.
Post Post Script: I wonder . . . On that day in our trailer . . . Was Jesus perhaps in our kitchen standing there looking up to heaven, giving thanks as he broke elbow macaroni!
Copyright © 2009 by William D. (Nick) Nichols