In his book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson shares an interesting study on divergent thinking, which he defines as the capacity to think counter-intuitively. In other words, thinking outside the box. The study found that 98% of children between the ages of 3-5 fall in this exceptional category. However, by the time children reach 8-10 years old, this number falls dramatically to 32%. Teenagers demonstrate only 10% of divergent thinking, and once people reach age 25, less than 2% remain in this category.
The feeding of the 5,000 is an excellent example of divergent thinking. God’s equation is 5+2=5000. Jesus asks Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for all these people?” Philip respond, “Even six months wages wouldn’t buy even a little for all who are here.” He immediately resorts to a default position: it can’t be done. Instead of seeing the person who is asking him the question, Philip sees the people as the problem. He doesn’t solve the equation as 5+2=5000. Problems aren’t solved at the same level we encounter them. When we base our giving on our limits, then we eliminate the possibilities of a generous life. But when we trust God’s principle, “give and it will be given to you,” then we rely on God’s unlimited resources.
Then Andrew enters the scene with a little boy’s lunch, five barley loaves the size of a dinner roll, and two small sardine-like fish. But in God’s economy, little is much in the hands of Jesus. Jesus then took the little boy’s lunch and gave thanks for what God was about to do. The Lord will bless what we bring to Him. Jesus then distributes the bread and the fish until everyone is fully satisfied, for what we bring to him doesn’t remain in his hands; he multiplies it by giving it away.
After the guests were fed, there were enough leftovers to fill all twelve of the disciples’ baskets. God provides the disciples with more than what they had at the beginning. God gives to us, not to keep, but to give away. God blesses us so we might bless others, and when we give, we receive blessings (leftovers). God challenges us to divergent thinking, that we might serve an unlimited God with unlimited resources!