In my Eat Cheap! classes, I often refer to the account of Jesus feeding the five thousand as an example for us to use what God has given us, namely the leftover food in our refrigerators! I mean, if Jesus Himself thought the leftovers were worth saving, then who are we to think otherwise? In my quiet time this morning, though, I discovered something different in this story.
The disciples recognized that the people who had come to hear Jesus speak were hungry. The disciples also recognized that they were in no position to feed them. Those guys were probably pretty hungry themselves! They beseeched Jesus to send the crowd away so that everyone could grab a bite to eat.
Jesus did something a little bit strange. (He did a lot of strange things, actually.) I can just imagine Him looking His friends straight in the eyes and saying, “You give them something to eat.”
How helpless and even annoyed would that make them feel? I can almost read those guys’ thoughts. “Really, Jesus? Are you serious? In case You haven’t noticed, we don’t get paid much for following You around. We’ve been out in the sun all day with You, and we’re just as famished and exhausted as they are. Haven’t we done enough of God’s work for one day?”
In spite of their frustration and fatigue, the disciples scrounged around and came up with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. You’ve got to admire these guys’ faith. They had seen Jesus move already. They knew that one lunch could yield some pretty significant results.
And, as many of us have heard from childhood, Jesus provided a feast for the masses from that meager portion of food.
Then, Jesus instructed the disciples to gather up the leftovers.
How many of you are dealing with leftovers in your life? Leftover energy. Leftover patience. Leftover forgiveness. Leftover grace.
We all get tired. We get run down. We get frustrated and hurt and impatient. We feel used, taken for granted, ill-equipped and discontent. Sometimes we experience these things because of our own poor choices. Sometimes it’s just what life throws at us.
No, it’s not always fair, and I’m truly sorry about that.
Here’s the cool thing that God showed me today. You have His leftovers to give. You may not be at your peak, but He is. You may not have your best to give, but He does. You may not be at your freshest or finest or most fun, but God’s leftovers are just as nourishing–just as sustaining–as what He gave you in the beginning.
If you’re tired, hungry, discouraged, drained, tapped out or fed up, God can still use whatever you give in His Name. He sustains even in your brokenness. Feast on His Word, fill up at His feet. There will come a day for renewal–a day for peace. Until then, give Him the broken, leftover pieces and watch Him feed the hungry.
Oh, and one more thing: You can be sure those disciples left with their bellies full that day. Jesus met their needs while they were meeting the needs of others.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measure to you. –Luke 6:38