For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11 ESV
Years ago, wanting to spend more quality time with our boys, I served in Royal Rangers, which was our denominations variety of Boy Scouts. Though the weekly meetings were okay, what I loved most was camping out. The group I worked with was consisted of 7-8 years old boys and for most of them, camping was a brand new experience.
On one of them after getting a few hours of sleep in our tents, we began making pancakes and bacon over the campfire. Now the interesting thing about cooking over a wood fire is that sometimes a few ashes settle into the pancakes or atop a bacon slice. But the kids eagerly lined up for breakfast, and wolfed their food down so fast you would have thought they were eating manna from heaven. Everyone was having a blast: everyone that is except for Tony. He came back to me, not having taken even a single bite and stood silently holding his plate. It was bent under the weight of the food and syrup dripped off its edge then he looked up and uttered words that have stayed with me ever since, “Commander Pete – I doan like this kinna pancake!”
I laughed then, but after forty years, if Tony were here, I would say, “Me too Tony, me too” There are some days when I come to Jesus and say, “Jesus, I doan like this kinna daily bread. Is there something else on the menu?” But our Lord looks patiently at me and replies, “One day, I was betrayed, unjustly accused and sentenced to a terrible death, I also didn’t at all like what was put on my plate, but I finished it all for you.” Then I bow my head and give thanks for the pancakes that God has chosen for me. Yes, I may not like “This kinna pancake,” – but I know that one day we will sit down at a table together and feast on the manna of Heaven!
First a word about my good friend Rob. Rob is a graphic artist and a writer who collaborates with me and Pastor Janice Burnett to publish Sunshine Newsletter which is freely distributed in approximately 14 facilities in Florida, New York and Ohio. I am forever grateful to them as well as Barb Hegreberg of My Life in Our Father’s World who sometimes appears as a guest columnist. Chicken Soup for Thanksgiving will appear in next week’s Sunshine Newsletter, and I was so touched that I asked his permission to allow me to share it here. I hope you will be as blessed as I was. Thanks Rob!
Every November, my mother told us the unforgettable story of one Thanksgiving when she was a little girl. That year, her father prepared food parcels to share with those in need and each one contained everything needed for a Thanksgiving dinner. Starting in the morning, people came to the door, and each received their ready-to-cook feast. Later, just as their family was about to sit down to enjoy their own Thanksgiving, the doorbell rang again. When my grandfather opened the door, he found a humble man in need of food for his family. Although all the boxes were gone, my grandfather wouldn’t let him go away empty-handed. He packed up his own family’s dinner and gave it to that grateful father. As my mother and her family ate chicken soup for their Thanksgiving dinner that year, a warm sense of God’s blessing filled their hearts. That happened nearly one hundred years ago, long before I was born, but I still get teary-eyed every time I tell this story.
Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.Isaiah 58:10 NLT
In today’s verse, God promised that He would always provide for His people when they provided for others. As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years, God sent mana from heaven to feed them. Of course, that miraculous provision is unique in all of history. Usually, the Lord feeds the hungry through people like my grandfather. With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away let’s thank God for His care, and also be grateful for the people He uses to bless our lives. Let’s show our gratitude by saying, “Lord, use me to make your love real to the people around me even when it means having chicken soup for Thanksgiving!
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!
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