We grew up eating leftovers. Mom didn’t throw much out! As a young wife and mother I did the same. In fact I remember one night specifically … it was a Wednesday night and the “planned overs” were all warmed up and we were waiting for my husband to come home from the church office. When he did, he walked in with the guest speaker for the night … none other than Nicky Cruz!
I was sooooooo embarrassed. Even if he had called to warn me I couldn’t have changed the menu! Nicky put me right at ease as I was offering my apologies. “Everywhere I go I am served fancy meals, all the chicken and ham I can eat … now this is like home!”
Now whether that was entirely true or not I’ll never know but I’ve often thought back to that occasion with a smile.
What got me thinking about leftovers? Reading the story of how Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes and had 12 basketfuls (Matthew 14:20) leftover … what happened to the leftovers? Did Jesus give one basket to each disciple? Did they give the baskets back to the boy? If so how did he get them home? He couldn’t sell any to the folks attending Jesus’ meeting because they had already eaten to the full! What excites me about this story is that AFTER the miracle there were leftovers!!!!
Oh my, if it had happened today I can hear the TV commercial … “Prepackaged food miraculously blessed by Jesus. Send in your $77.77 right now and we will send it to you … call in the next 7 minutes and we will send you two … you will only need to pay double shipping” OK, that’s bad!
Did you know that God uses leftovers?
The children of Israel ate leftovers every seventh day for 40 years! In fact, if they didn’t collect enough to do so … they went without! I sure hope those women were able to come up with a new recipe every now and then!
Somehow as we enter our senior years we think (I guess I’m admitting I’m getting up in years!) our years of doing anything for God or much of any thing useful has passed us by. We feel “leftover”.
Hey, that wasn’t the case with any number of people in the Bible. Moses had his greatest ministry after 80! Caleb pursued his inheritance after 80. Samson missed God’s calling most of his life but left to rot in a prison he was finally called out and obeyed God even in his death.
I’ve always been amazed at Joshua and Caleb. They had a call of God but couldn’t fulfill it because of the unbelief of their congregation. They had to wait 40 years for the old folks to die off before they could get on with their calling and ministry. At the same time they had to keep their vision alive and also alive in the hearts of those under 20 who would enter into the Promised Land with them. WOW! Have you kept your calling and vision alive for 40 years or longer?
What about the story of Elisha’s bones in II Kings 13? Elisha had been dead for a YEAR! Leftover bones! A funeral procession is on their way to the burial grounds, they see a band of raiders coming, the procession wants to get out of there QUICKLY so they throw the dead man in the tomb of the year long dead prophet and whammo … dead man awakes and stands up! Wouldn’t you like to know the reaction of the people in the procession when they see their friend coming home??
Oh, then there’s the story of the widow woman in I Kings 17 who was going to make her last cake, fed her son and then lay down to die. Only the preacher came by and said, “feed me first”. The nerve of some preachers! BUT she did and talk about leftovers … the oil and flour kept coming until the famine was over.
I think one of my favorites is the story in II Kings 7:3-20. The Syrian army was camped outside the gates of Samaria just waiting for the opportunity to strike. The land was in famine and the people inside the city walls were starving. There was no food. There were four lepers at the gates who were as hungry as those inside the walls. So they decided to head for the enemy camp to see if they could beg food. They figured the enemy just might give them something or kill them it didn’t much matter because they were going to die anyway. BUT God had another plan. They got to the enemy camp and it was deserted. Yes … DESERTED!
God made the enemy to hear what sounded like an army, the enemy ran and all was leftover! The four lepers ate their fill, ran back to the city and told their tale. The leftovers from the enemy provided food for Samaria!
Zacharias & Elizabeth were old. No chance of having a child. Their age made them think they were leftovers. BUT God had another plan. He promised them a child in their old age and God did what He promised! Baby John the Baptist was born. Of course there is the story of Abraham and Sarah and their miracle baby born in their leftover years too. (Hope that never happens to me however!)
Look at the story of Simeon and Anna in Luke 2. They were both up in years passed by for heavy ministry BUT God had a plan. They were both in the right place at the right time and held baby God in their arms. Image that! Holding God in their arms … literally!!
Do you ever feel that your usefulness has passed? That you are too old, too worn out, rejected, leftover, no talent, what in the world could I do for God? Have you failed God at some point and think He can’t use you now? Your usefulness has passed? Have you repented? Have you returned to your first love?
Just tell God that you are available for whatever!
When Jesus uses leftovers you end up with more than you had in the beginning … He specializes in what others would throw away.