Nothing Wasted

“Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” —John 6:12 NIV

I learned resourcefulness and frugality early. I was nine years old when my father lost his job and used his skills as a carpenter to put food on the table. Meatless meals, such as bowties and cottage cheese or tomato soup and potato pancakes, were the standard fare, as were leftovers.

The truth of the adage “waste not, want not” was a lesson well learned, for I needed to apply it when my husband and I were raising a family and building a house on one income. I threw nothing away. Even small, one-serving portions of vegetables were saved and used in a stew. Sometimes I forgot about the leftovers stashed in the refrigerator until obnoxious odors sent me on a search-and-pitch mission. At least a healthy growth of mold assuaged the guilt I felt throwing away food.

As the children grew, so did our income, and I began to be less frugal. By the time the empty nest years began, disposable dust rags, toilet bowl cleaning pads, kitchen and bathroom wipes, and eyeglass lens cleaning cloths filled our cupboards. It’s easy to become careless when there’s plenty.

Jesus, God’s Son, who had the riches of heaven at His disposal, disliked waste. After He miraculously fed a crowd that numbered close to ten thousand people (the Gospels indicate five thousand men were fed that day, but that number did not include women and children), He told His disciples to gather up the leftovers.

“Let nothing be wasted,” He said.

Jewish tradition dictated that bread scraps be picked up and saved, since the Jews considered bread, which often represents life, as a gift from God.

What a far cry from our attitude today! A mentality that everything is disposable has spilled over into how we view relationships and life itself. Aborting an unborn child, abandoning a spouse for greener pastures, and assisting the suicide of a chronically ill person demonstrate today’s throw-away attitude: “When you’re done with it or don’t want it, throw it away, whether or not it can still be used.”

The speaker for the 2014 Punxsutawney Christian Women’s Conference, Linda Evans Shepherd, had a daughter who was paralyzed and brain damaged in a car accident when she was eighteen months old. Laura was now in her twenties and had a host of ongoing medical problems. But she was able to communicate “yes” and “no” with her tongue. Linda said Laura was doing what she wanted to do, which was to live. She has since passed away.

In spite of their difficult life, however, Laura brought much joy to her family.

“Let nothing be wasted,” Jesus said.

Nothing. Not the shards of our fractured lives and shattered dreams. Not broken relationships or wrecked bodies. Gather the fragments and give them to the One who will make each fragment count.

Thank You, Lord, that, in Your hands, nothing is wasted. Amen.

Read and meditate on John 6:1–13.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Finding Lulu

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 “Consider the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” —Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 6:26 NIV

My son and grandson were riding along a country road one Sunday years ago when they spied a yellow-plumed bird alongside the road—a lone cockatiel, apparently abandoned. When they got home and told Rachael, she made them go back and get it. Never mind that their house was home to two dogs and two cats, not to mention the horse, pony, goat and chickens in the barn.

“How could you leave it there all by itself?” she chastised them.

And so “Lulu’ became a temporary member of the household. Fortunately (for my son, who did not want to add another member to the menagerie), Rachael found someone willing to give Lulu a permanent home.

“Aren’t you afraid it’ll fly away?” I asked when Rachael brought Lulu up for me to see.

“Her wings are clipped,” Rachael explained. “She can’t fly.”

How would she have escaped a predator if she couldn’t wing her way to safety?

The next day Rachael brought Lulu to visit again. “I found a home for her.” One of the teachers at my grandson’s school wanted her.

“But we’re going to keep her for a week.”

I could tell she wanted to keep Lulu. For a brief, shining moment I did, too.

Imagine—going from unwanted to wanted in a day.

Finding Lulu reminded me of an important truth—that God will never abandon us.

“Never will I leave you,” He promises. “Never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands,” God assures us in Isaiah 49:15–16.

There are times you may feel abandoned, alongside a lonely country road or a busy thoroughfare of life. Cars pass you, occupants glance at you. But no one stops. Even God has forsaken you, you think. He doesn’t care.

But you’re wrong. Just because you don’t sense His presence doesn’t mean God isn’t with you. Cling to the promises He gives you in His Word.

“What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin?” Jesus said. “But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows” (Matthew 10:29–31 NLT).

Repeat to yourself: “I am valuable to God.”

And never forget it.

When I feel as though You’ve abandoned me, Lord, remind me of Your promise: “Surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 6:25–26.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.