Tag Archives: Abundance

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.

Drilling Down to Spring Generosity

In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:2 (NIV)

About 12 years ago Wendy and I made the decision to purchase my parents property at the lake. At the time the property had a  70 foot single-wide from the early 1970s which I used to refer to as “The Love Shack.” At the end of a gravel road, the property requires a well for water and a septic system for waste management. After agreeing to make the purchase my dad walked me through the process they went through each year to have their water supply tested and treated against the nasty things that can get into a natural water supply. It was pretty gross just thinking about it.

A year or so later we had a new well dug on the property. I’d never experienced this before, and I was fascinated by the process. The young man who owned the drilling service loved his work and I’ll never forget the passion and enthusiasm with which he went about his drilling a well. By the end of the day he’d explained to me that the old well on the property had been way too shallow which was why the water was prone to some of the nastiness that had to be tested and treated. The driller had to go much deeper than planned and get through some tough stretches of rock to reach the aquifer which would pump clean water to our house. I’ll never forget the guy grinning from ear-to-ear. “You’re pumping ‘crystal clear’ now, dude!

That little experience really got me thinking just how much I take for granted the luxury of a clean water supply that I don’t have to think or worry about. That got me digging a little deeper for information about water in the world. The good news is that since 1990 great progress has been made. In just 25 years a staggering 2.5 Billion people have gained access to an improved water supply free from fear of contamination. I love it! That’s huge progress that we can feel good about. [cue: We are the World]. Nevertheless, there’s still 665 million people in the world who don’t have access to a simple, clean water supply. Most of them are in Africa. For many years Wendy and I have been supporters of Blood:Water Mission, a group actively working to improve access to clean water across Africa.

Along life’s journey I’ve had to confess that it sometimes takes an  experience for me to wake up to the needs of others, and the opportunity I have to make a difference.

In today’s chapter, we discover one of the major reasons Paul was writing his letter to the followers of Jesus in Corinth. There was a severe famine in area of Syria and Israel. Historical records confirm that a massive famine broke out in that region in 47 A.D. during the reign of Emperor Claudius. People were literally starving to death, and Paul had been taking up an offering among the believers in Greece and Asia Minor to take much needed supplies to the believers back in Jerusalem.

There was kind of a cool spiritual principle at work. Back when Jesus was tempted to turn stones to bread He quoted a verse from Deuteronomy to the enemy: “You shall not live on bread alone, but on every word the comes from the mouth of God.” The believers in Jerusalem had blessed Greece and Asia Minor by sending the Word and spreading Jesus’ Message through Paul and others. Now those believers in Greece and Asia Minor had the opportunity, in turn, to save the believers in Jerusalem from starvation by providing for their physical needs.

Yesterday I wrote about Paul finding joy in “all his troubles.” He uses that same same spiritual principle again, and takes it a step further, as he describes the believers in Macedonia who found joy amidst their trials and generosity amidst their poverty.

This morning in the quiet I find myself counting my blessings. Our hot water issue was fixed yesterday. It was a pesky annoyance caused by build up of ice that choked the flow of air to the system. Ultimately, it was a small problem. Such a luxury, and what an opportunity I continually have to make a difference in the lives of others through the abundance with which I’ve been blessed. The Macedonians, Paul wrote, had been generous despite their poverty. How much more generous can I be out of the wealth with which I’ve been blessed?

Featured photo courtesy of Seeds of Hope International Partnerships: http://sohip.org

One Word for 2017 … (continued)

I mentioned in a post a week or two ago that over the past couple of years Wendy and I, along with some other family and friends, have been engaged in finding “One Word” that is like a theme for our year. For Wendy and me, the idea is not that we consciously choose a word we desire to be the theme of our year, but that we are open to what word we believe God has chosen for each of us in that year. It’s a faith thing. Ask. Seek. Listen. You’ll know it when you hear it.

I shared in my recent post that the word I’ve been given for 2017 is “empty.” I’m still wrestling with that.

Those who know us well know that Wendy is far more deliberative (literally, about every single thing in life) than I am. I’m an intuitive go with your gut and go with the flow kind of person. Wendy typically weighs and reweighs decisions, and then she double checks her choices in case she might have made the wrong one (I can, at this moment, hear God joyfully cackling at our union). So, the reality is that one year Wendy didn’t really get her one word until sometime in the summer.

Having said this, there are times when Wendy determines something quickly and with abnormal (for her) immediacy. When that happens I’ve learned to pay attention because it’s usually God at work.

So it was yesterday during our weekly worship that Wendy told me that she felt called to go to the elders for prayer. This is a regular thing among our local gathering of Jesus followers. Elders stand ready during worship to pray for anyone who desire is. Wendy went to the side of the room to pray and was there a good while.

On our ride home Wendy shared with me that she had felt prompted to go over for prayer because she has been feeling so “empty.” Yes, she used that exact word. Then she said that as one of the elders (a dear friend and prophet whom God has used to speak into our lives at different times) prayed, she uttered a word that dropped onto Wendy’s spirit. “I went, ‘I think that’s my word!‘”

Pay attention,” the Spirit said to my spirit.

Abundance. Her word was abundance.

My word is empty.

This is going to be interesting.

After Dinner Blessing

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.
Deuteronomy 8:10 (NIV)

The harvest here in Iowa is in full swing. Gorgeous, dry fall weather means that the corn and bean fields are full of combines and grain trucks bringing in the land’s bounty. When you live in Iowa, even if you have nothing to do with farming, you feel a keen connection to the land and the seasons of cultivating, planting, growing, and harvesting. It’s part of the fabric of daily life in the heartland.

Wendy and I love our meals with family and friends. We love setting the table, making a good meal, opening the wine, and sharing long hours of laughter and conversation over the food and drink. Especially during the harvest season there is a extra sense of gratitude I feel for God’s provision, the land which produces the abundance we enjoy, and those who labor to produce it.

The verse above is one that I have memorized and, quite regularly, at the end of a good meal it will come to mind as we sit in the contented afterglow of our feast. It is tradition at our table to say a prayer of blessing at the beginning of our meal, but this verse has taught me that it is every bit as appropriate to say a word of thanks and gratitude after “you have eaten and are satisfied.”

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