Jesus came into the world for the express purpose of saving sinners. “…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) That involved unimaginable and indescribable suffering, and ultimately His ignominious death on the cross of Calvary. But intermingled with His suffering, was a life of miracles, beginning with turning water into wine, in John, chapter 2, and concluding with His glorious resurrection from the dead. “…But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said,” (Matthew 28.5-6) which event we celebrate every Lord’s Day.
Jesus was a man of miracles; human, yet divine, humble, yet almighty and all-wise. The Apostle John wrote, “And truly Jesus did many other signs (miracles) in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;….” (John 20:30) He then closes his gospel account with, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” (Joh 21:25) What a story!
Among those miracles was one we refer to as, “The Feeding of
the Five Thousand.” Jesus took five loaves and two fish, blessed them, and proceeded, with the help of his disciples, to perform this miracle. And what a miracle it was! After the multitude had finished eating and was full, Jesus said to His disciples, “…Gather up the fragments that remain so that nothing be lost.” (John 6:12) Another miracle? I think so, but in addition to being a miracle, it reveals an interesting facet of Jesus’ philosophy: “Be good stewards of what you have.”
Through the years, I have talked about and heard other preachers talk about stewardship of time, talent, and possessions. So, when the disciples had gathered up the fragments, they found that after feeding 5,000+ hungry people with five loaves and two fish, there were 12 basketfuls of leftover fragments. Wow! Could it be that He was also reaffirming the lesson he taught in His sermon in the plain? “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Again, I think so. I have been taught, and I believe, that if we give out of a sincere and charitable heart as to the Lord, it will be just as He said.
Is it possible that, in our walk with the Lord, we may have failed to gather up some of the fragments that we should have gleaned from our life experience? Again, I think so. Even when we fail, there may be some leftover fragments that we can gather up and benefit from. In fact, failures sometimes teach us the most valuable lessons. I read on the internet recently that the Kansas City Star newspaper fired Walt Disney because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas?” One of Oprah Winfrey’s first jobs in TV ended abruptly after the producer declared she was “unfit for television.” Considering how far she has come, they must be eating their words. Somewhere along the way, both of these famous people learned some lessons from adverse circumstances that helped them become successful.
But, then we don’t learn positive lessons only from failure. We benefit, as I have already indicated, by taking note of the things that have brought us success and effectiveness. Being free in our giving of our time, talent and possessions is only one way to experience the joy and other benefits that follow.
I have retired from the pastorate but now in my retirement, I find that there are fragments from my past experience that I can pull together to help me at least feel that I can still make a contribution. I know that some of those reading this post are of a kindred spirit and I hope this post might brighten their outlook as they deliberate about what to do with the rest of their lives.
Know that your life and your experience is valuable. It is valuable to others, but also to you. And, maybe, more important is the fact that the Lord bids us gather up the fragments, put them together, and use them for His glory and the good of others and ourselves. It is more than a responsibility; it is a privilege.
We are blessed with such an abundance of resources. Sometimes I have wondered where in the world they come from; our good health and strength, a reasonably good mind, encouragement from family and friends, as well as material resources like a Bible, a computer, and a vast supply of Bible study materials. Of course, I do know that, in reality, they come from the good, kind, and gracious heavenly Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ. ” Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1.17) The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4.19) And He does!
I have spent most of my life studying the Bible, preparing and preaching sermons and lessons. It has been my passion. It still is! It is for that reason that I began building a website. Much of what I learned through the years is still hanging around. I gleaned a lot, but not everything that I might have. But fragments remain and I want to make to most of them. I hope you do, too.