Leftovers

I work at a school where we sit together at meal times family style and pass the food around. By the end of the meal, depending on the food, there is either nothing left or lots of leftovers. But this really isn’t going to be about those kind of leftovers at all.

I’ve been reading in the gospels these days on my continuing journey of reading through the Bible chronologically in one year. I’ve now read the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000+ with five loaves of barley and two fish in every gospel. Today I read the final version found in John.

You would think that having read and heard about the miracle probably at least a couple dozen or so times in my life that nothing different would stand out to me. But God is an amazing God. I asked to be shown something new today in His word and sure enough, He supplied it.

John 6:12 (ESV) reads, “And when they had eaten their fill, He told His disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.'”

I continued reading amazing, powerful verses that John 6 contained but by the end of it, I kept coming back to this verse. A question nagged at my heart, why bother collecting the leftovers?

Didn’t everyone just witness the incredible abundance and provision of God first hand? The crowd was full, no one was crying, “I didn’t get any,” which is something I hear on a regular basis these days from my young friends at work. No, everyone ate to their heart’s content; a huge miracle had occurred. Why gather up the leftovers, fragments at that?

I started wondering about the point of Jesus’ instructions, was it to continue showing the people and the disciples the abundance of God? How often in my own life have I witnessed the miraculous workings of Christ in my life and intentionally forgot to collect the leftovers? Was collecting the leftovers more about lingering in the presence of God and not rushing out to look for the next powerful Christ encounter?

Perhaps instead, the collection of leftover fragments is about lingering in amazement at the abounding _________ of God in the moment.

“‘. . . that nothing may be lost.'” Including amazement, speechlessness, awe, gratitude and praise for the miraculous.

Do you, like me, need to start gathering in the leftover fragments of God’s miracles in your life? How could you do this? Where is God calling you to?

GOF OTO

I’ve been reading through the Bible chronologically this year and it has been an amazing journey thus far. This week I passed out of the Old Testament and am now reading the New Testament.

There’s a couple of lingering thoughts left over from my OT readings that I would like to share with you. Unfortunately, both thoughts have to do with obedience. Groooooaaaaannn.

It’s okay, maybe you’ve got God-obedience down. Good for you. I do not in the least. Too often I am stomping my foot, sticking out my lower lip and pouting when God asks something of me. And yes, this response to God has been brought to my attention lately via my job in working with kids.

The first example of Good Old-Fashioned Old Testament Obedience (GOF OTO) is found in Isaiah. If you want to talk about obedience, the prophets get down to some serious obedience business before God. At the beginning of Isaiah 20, God tells Isaiah to walk naked and barefoot for three years as a sign to Egypt and Cush.

Did you catch that, really? Go walk naked and barefoot for three years!!! Now that’s obedience.

The second example comes from Ezra, a priest. His timeline is this:  the Israelites have been in captivity. The king of Persia has given permission for the Israelites to return to Jerusalem and re-build the temple of God. This alone is an amazing feat. They build the temple with many delays and attempts at sabotage and then Ezra gathers all the priests and the people to dedicate it and celebrate Passover. Ezra then teaches the people about the laws of God.

In Ezra 9, he prays about intermarriage between the Israelites and others of a non-Jewish descent. The answer to his prayer is for all who intermarried to make a covenant with God “…to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of the LORD…” (10:3, ESV)

I don’t know about you, but that seems like a tall order to me. I see myself whining and complaining and refusing that one. It’s my family, after all.

I write this to say, I have a long way to go regarding GOF OTO. And you?