When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. John 6:12-13
When we eat out, sometimes the portions are enormous, but my wife and have no problem with bringing home the extra. We see it as an easy and delicious lunch for the next day. But there are some people we know who never dream of bringing anything home. They just don’t want to deal with the leftovers. Today’s verse talks about just such a situation and it comes at the end of a day after Jesus miraculously feeds thousands of people with five loaves of bread. The disciples are blessed, but probably exhausted. They have not only spent the entire day listening to Jesus, but they also just got done passing out bread and fish to huge crowds of hungry men. Then Jesus tells them that they aren’t finished yet. They need to pick up the leftovers!
Now I don’t know about you, but this always seemed pretty strange to me. I wondered why, if Jesus was able to feed five thousand men with five loaves of bread why He needed for them to pick up the crumbs. Was this tomorrow’s lunch, or meant as an offering to leave with a nearby leper colony? Why in the world did Jesus need leftovers? The encouraging thing I have discovered is that He didn’t! What Jesus wants you and me to know is it doesn’t matter how much value those leftovers have, or if he couldn’t make fresher bread miraculously appear. What matters to Him is that nothing is ever wasted.
As I have grown older, there are days when I wonder what life might have been like if I had done a few things differently. I think I could have chosen a better career; avoided a few stupid arguments, and there is definitely one car I wish I had never bought! But the biggest enemy that I battle with is the regret over things I left undone. I should have given more money to people in need, visited more often with my aging father, apologized to my mom and on and on. Most troubling of all is preparing to meet God with this huge basket of leftovers. I wonder what I could possibly say to explain why I failed so often and so miserably. Then this verse calms my heart. It tells me that nothing will be wasted. The good times and the bad, the successes and failures, regrets and joys are all loaded together into His basket of grace. Though my life looks just like a jumble of torn up pieces of bread, piled one on top of the other, that jumble all belongs to Him. We are bought with a price. Every leftover crumb of our lives is His, and He has plans to gather us up and carry us home with Him!