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the God of leftovers




“Leftovers again?”

It’s a refrain that is sometimes heard in our house, especially after Shannon has prepared several great meals in a row. In those times, we often have a collage of containers in the refrigerator, filled with various elements from the dinners of the last few days: broccoli in the glass container with the red lid, brown rice in the green tupperware, and some pork chops wrapped in foil, just to name a few. Sometimes there is enough of this mishmosh of food to last us for several meals, which is when the complaining usually begins, “Leftovers, again?”

I was thinking about this on Sunday as we thought about God’s abundance. We remembered story after story in the Bible in which we discover a God of abundance and overflowing goodness. One of the stories was the feeding of the 5,000, in which a huge crowd (some estimate it was as many as 15,000, since women and children wouldn’t have made the count) was fed by a meager 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. Perhaps the miracle is a supernatural generation of food, a multiplication of cells and nutrients, to make something out of almost nothing. Certainly God is able. Or perhaps the miracle is that the boy who gave his meal so selflessly, inspired generosity in others, so that when it seemed like no one would have enough, through the act of selfless generosity, everyone had enough.

Actually, everyone had more than enough. As the story is told, we are meant to know that the miracle didn’t end with everyone being full, but with their being 12 baskets of leftovers. More than enough.

I Googled “God and leftovers” and all I could find were articles about how we shouldn’t give God our leftovers. What wasn’t immediately available was any information about this amazing truth, that i think we so often miss: God gives us leftovers! That is, God gives us more than enough, so that there is some leftover. So often we live in a frantic frenzy of anxiety, worrying if there will be enough: enough time, enough energy, enough white blood cells, enough money, enough retirement, enough everything. And in this frenzy we grow fatigued, and forget that we claim to follow a God who gives more than enough. We follow a God who gave life, gave manna, gave water, gave a sacrificial lamb, gave redemption, gave hope. We follow a God who gave his only Son, Jesus, who said, “I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly.”

In our church we are in a season of stewardship, during which we are asking ourselves some "what if?" questions. I am urging the folks at St. Pauls UMC and Wesley Foundation to dare themselves to put their hope in the God of abundance, who not only gives us enough, but loads of leftovers, as well. As you reflect on this truth, I invite you to consider where you have seen God’s abundance in your life recently, and to let that inspire you to even greater hope in the God of leftovers.

Prayer: God of abundance, help us to see the ways you not only provide enough for us, but lavish us with leftovers. Give us eyes to see the embarrassment of riches that we enjoy through your creation, the joy of music, the contentment of food, the blessing of family, and so much more. Forgive us for focusing on that which we lack, or which we fear we will lose, and help us to choose to embrace your abundance instead. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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