The God of Leftovers

The God of Leftovers (CaD 2 Ki 4) Wayfarer

“For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.'”
2 Kings 4:43b (NIV)

“What’s for dinner?”

It’s one of the eternal, daily questions of life. There’s not a single season of my entire life that did not include a daily version of wondering what was going to be on the table for the evening meal. As a child, it was a matter of what mom had planned. As a college student, it was a matter of what was on the cafeteria menu. As a parent, it became a question of providing and sometimes cooking what was going to be on the table for the family. As empty nesters, Wendy and I now ask the question of what we want for just the two of us. Wendy is a planner, so she often prompts a semi-monthly conversation to scope out a two-week dinner plan. Nevertheless, the question comes up daily: “What’s on the plan for dinner?”

Leftovers are often the plan. In fact, we often make recipes designed for a group or large family. We simply divide and freeze the leftovers which are easy to warm up and serve.

Leftovers.

What a blessing, what abundance, to have so much, that there’s plenty left over.

Today’s chapter continues the adventures of the prophet Elisha, and it’s a sort of miraculous mystery tour. There are four episodes in which Elisha is an instrument of the miraculous. In each episode, the miracle is that of provision.

A widow can’t pay her debts and her creditor is coming to take her two sons as slaves in repayment of the debt. Elisha’s instructions miraculously provide enough olive oil to pay off the debt and enough left over to sustain her and her sons.

A childless young, foreign wife of an old man is facing the threat of poverty and destitution in that ancient culture. Children, particularly sons, were the only form of social security for widows. Elisha prophesies that she will have a son, and then when the boy dies God uses Elisha to raise the boy from the dead.

There is a famine in the land and Elisha hosts the company of prophets. When a servant mistakenly poisons the stew, Elisha miraculously makes the stew edible so that everyone could eat and none would go to waste.

A visitor brings Elisha twenty loaves of bread. In a foreshadowing of Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and fish, Elisha tells him to pass them out among the hundred men gathered with him. As with Jesus’ miracle, there was enough bread for everyone to eat and there were still leftovers.

In each episode, there was something lacking that threatened an individual or individuals. A widow, a foreign woman who was barren, and the company of prophets threatened by starvation amidst a famine. In each case, there was not just provision, but abundance.

There were leftovers.

I must confess to you that I have always struggled with a scarcity mentality. I fear there will not be enough. I doubt that things will work out. I assume that I will suffer loss rather than abundance.

In the quiet this morning, I was reminded of a quote from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way:

“Thinking like this is grounded in the idea that God is a stern parent with very rigid ideas about what’s appropriate for us. And you’d better believe we won’t like them. This stunted god concept needs alteration.

Jesus agrees:

“Which of you, if your child asks for bread, will give them a rock? Or, if they ask for a fish, will give them a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?”

The alteration that needs to happen is not with God, but with me. As Cameron continues to observe, “Remember, you are the cheapskate, not God.”

I need that reminder.

In the quiet this morning, I wrote in my morning pages my heart’s cry to Jesus’ heavenly Father who knows how to give good gifts.

I proclaimed my trust in my heavenly Father who not only provides for His children, He’s the God of leftovers.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

The featured image on today’s post was created with Wonder AI.

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