Feeling Like a Cliche

Posted on: June 13, 2012 Written by
Feeling Like a Cliche
      Photography by: Alistair Forrester Shankie from iStock    

I am a cliché. In the last twelve months I have become the main character in the same stories I heard all my life growing up in the church.

“You just don’t know how much you take for granted until you see those who have nothing.”

“You don’t know how lucky you are to worship without the fear of an armed gunman showing up at your door.”

“You can’t know faith until you have lived in a place where He is all you have.”

“Global workers always dress funny and never have enough money.”

And now, living them all first-hand, I find myself resistant to talk about it. No one wants to be that girl; to be smiled at with empty, squinted eyes and a token head-nod. Nevertheless, I am afraid that is what I have become: just one more person sharing the same kinds of stories for people to tuck away in their mental Over There file. I did not come here to be somebody. I also did not come here to be anybody. I came here to be a witness and a herald. Yet when there is “nothing new under the sun,” what will my message be? More importantly, how does a cliché become a catalyst?

In recent months, the story of the “loaves and fishes” (Matthew 14:13-21) has been in the front of my mind. Mostly I am aware of the concept of God’s perfect provision, like when I consider my parenting and wonder how, with my tireless mistakes, my boys will ever avoid therapy. At times, though, I catch a synapse of a deeper meaning.

“We have here only fives loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

Bring them here to Me,” He said.

I wonder how many times the disciples, and those gathered there, had eaten fish? I wonder how many culinary variations for bass have come out of a fishing community? I imagine the disciples searching the crowd for anyone who could make something fabulous out of something common. Certainly if the disciples offered pan-fried instead of scampi, the crowd would whisper, “How cliché.” Or maybe the disciples really were just trying to quiet the hunger pangs of the people, with no real interest in flair and flavor. In any case, I hear the disciples coming to Jesus saying, “Sorry, Lord—we got nothin’.”

“Bring them here to Me.”

My personal experience fills in the details of this story. I have seen the banquet He produces when I offer my two stinky fish. Not only are people filled, but more often than not I hear them rave about dishes that were not even on the menu. God takes my canned tuna to the vegan and somehow they feast on eggplant primavera. He offers my doughnuts to the diabetic and they dine on filet mignon. When I hear Him tell the disciples “bring them here to Me,” I smirk, because I know He has something cooking!

Maybe my life is not so much cliché, as it is fishy—yes, my experiences are a bit like selling sushi to a sailor. I know that when I tell a mega-church pastor I watched five Muslim women read the Bible yesterday, he might smile and nod. When I explain to a Sunday school that I was worried those women had been followed and we would all be discovered, there might be token gasps. I also know that when Jesus says “bring those stories here to Me,” He will transform them. He will edit them for content, making them into an exquisite dish each reader needs for their unique nourishment.

We often feel like we are just another one of those people. We assume our stories are boring, or that they are not written well enough to warrant any attention. Perhaps we are right. Nevertheless, refusing to communicate with the church about what God is doing worldwide because of our own insecurities is a sneaky way of doubting the God of the loaves and fishes. If we bring our stories to Him, He will make them palatable. We do not have to season them or even ration them. We just have to offer them.


© 2012 Women of the Harvest.

Questions to Consider: Are you offering your stories to a hungry world, willing to let the God of loaves and fishes turn them into a delectable feast?  How are you doing it: blogs, newsletters, articles?



About the author

Jami Staples is the Director of Women’s Training for Crescent Project. Together with countless volunteers Ms. Staples designs national training conferences for Christian women to learn how to move past their anxieties and share the Word of God with Muslim women world wide.

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  • Marcy

    Absolutely delighted to have read something so true and yet so articulated with passion and strong imagery, giving the reader the ability to “see” what God would have us “do.” Deut 28, we can’t do what we can’t see. I would love to read more of this author’s work and will definitely be checking out the website. Thanks author, Ms Staples, for sharing your gift!

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Marcy! I’m so glad the Lord used this piece to speak to you – it’s His work anyway! You are most welcome on our site. Blessings in your work. – Author, Jami Staples

  • Jan Kennedy

    Thank you!!!!!!!!!

  • KAB

    Thanks for the fish…oops, food…for thought. I like what you have said. This line/sentence I want to remember and take with me: ” I also know that when Jesus says “bring those stories here to Me,” He will transform them. ” I have been encouraged by you today. God bless you.

  • Marlene

    Thank you, Jami. Those of us who serve in home offices often feel we have little nourishment to offer our supporters, and frequently have to borrow fish from those on the front lines. Thank you for the challenge to offer what little we have to Him for His blessing to the use of our readers.

  • Angela

    What a relief to hear your thoughts while I’m on home-assignment. It’s a good reminder that I don’t need to “perform”, but can tell our stories well and trust that God will bring the “aha” moment to their hearts.

  • Alicia Macedo

    Thanks for those words of encouragement. I have just recently expressed how incapable I feel, especially having to do everything in Portuguese. Sometimes I wonder if what I do had any lasting impact or is helping anyone. Does it make a difference? I needed to hear Jesus saying “Bring it to me”. I can only offer him my willingness to try and trust that He will make something worthwhile of it. It is His to do with as He chooses.

    • Anonymous

      Alicia, you have absolutely hit the nail on the head! He will indeed make something worthwhile of whatever we offer. Thanks for your perseverance.
      Jami

  • Cecile

    Uplifting to read such an honest and Jesus’centered article… Thank you for sharing and showing such a compassionate heart. May the Lord use your pictures in words in a wonderful way.

  • I’m glad He brought this to me, through you!

  • Shari

    I am so much better for having read this today. Just what I needed to hear! May you know how joyful you’ve made me!

  • Rae

    Thanks for such an articulate, well written, thought provoking, uplifting piece. Truly how good to be reminded that is its “God who gives the increase” Our responsibility is to be faithful. May God be honored as He multiplies our small offerings.