After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples,“Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. (John 6:12-13)
Relate: One of the joys of being single is that I don’t have to deal with leftovers. I work near a grocery store and on an almost daily basis on the way home, I will buy just what I need until the next time I can be there after work. When I’m cooking I know just how hungry I am and how much I can eat and I cook accordingly. If I use meat meat my breakfast omelette will have two eggs. Without it I will use three. One pizza covers lunch and dinner. Or I could do sandwiches for lunch and make a small portion of some sort of pasta for dinner. Nothing carries overnight and I am never, ever throwing away food.
Growing up in a big family made for quite the opposite. Right now in my fridge I have a couple tomatoes, an onion, some condiments, some eggs and butter, orange soda, milk, and green tea. That’s it. It is very easy to find whatever I need because there’s lots of empty space. There was never any empty space in the fridge growing up. Tupperware container was piled on tupperware container with hot dogs wrapped in tin foil sandwiched between them. There was always plenty of leftover options for my home-from-school snack, or my before-dinner snack, or my after-dinner snack, or my study snack, or my late night snack. I think JRR Tolkien modeled his Hobbits after teenagers. The only problem is, I don’t think I, or any of my siblings, ever really wanted to snack on those green beans, or peas. Corn or carrots, sure, but other veggies always ended up migrating to the back of the fridge where they became science projects on fungal growth. It also seemed like the fridge only got cleaned out when it was my dish day but that’s another story.
Jesus wasn’t a litterbug. Before packing up and clearing out, he made sure his disciples picked up the scraps. Now only two things were being served for this dinner: bread and fish. Fish don’t last long, especially without refrigeration. Wonder of wonders, there wasn’t any left. What I am able to do in cooking up just enough for me, Jesus managed with a crowd of tens of thousands. He also provided an easily snackable item for the twelve guys living a bachelor’s lifestyle who were following him around. Best yet, to prevent any arguments, they each got their own basket. When Jesus does a miracle it is not only one of abundance, it is a miracle of efficiency. Nothing gets wasted.
React: Very often for those of us in the West, when we are in need of a miracle in finances it is a product of our own wastefulness. We need God to provide but He has already provided everything we need. The problem is, we have squandered His provision on the wrong things. He has given us abundance in one season to carry us through the coming lack. Then when the thin time comes we find ourselves tightening the belt because we were not wise during the abundance. We then wonder why God isn’t providing the miracle we so desperately need when in reality He already has but we were to stupid to recognize it and put it to good use. Some things got trashed that were not used in their season and other things were squandered when they could have been saved for a hungrier time. We never realized that today’s leftovers are tomorrow’s necessities.
God, give me the wisdom to use and manage the resources You have already given me in a way that would be honoring to You. I cannot see the future. I do not know the needs of tomorrow. But You do and I have seen time after time how You have lined things up long before the need or the opportunity ever became apparent. Help me to be generous with others but efficient in my own lifestyle. In everything help me to be grateful for what You have given and the miracles You have performed on my behalf.