Join the Wesley UMC staff and others as we bring you a devotion each day for the 12 days of Christmas. Merry Christmas!
Joy Starwalt shares the following message for the seventh day of the 12 days of Christmas:
When they had plenty to eat, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover pieces, so that nothing will be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with pieces of the five barley loaves that had been left over by those who had eaten.
John 6:12, 13
Happy New Year’s Eve! It certainly is a strange holiday. Our culture would lead us toward believing that when we turn the page of the calendar tonight, or tomorrow morning, everything will be fixed, changed, or different. It’s a new year, a fresh slate! So therefore, celebrate tonight to see out the old before the new arrives. After this year of the overused word, “unprecedented” challenges, that sounds so very good. Yet I have been through this cycle enough times to realize that tomorrow morning we are still going to be contending with most of the same challenges we faced this morning. There will be a new picture on the calendar, a new number when we write the year, but much will remain the same.
Before this sounds too depressing, let me give you a caveat. I believe we need these “marker days” such as New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, to set boundaries on our time, and to begin to see where this journey is leading us. It is a much bigger picture than what we normally see on ordinary days. On our ordinary days we do our tasks, we tend to the necessities of life, we have our to-do lists to accomplish, and one day seems to flow into the next. Before we know it, there goes the week, the month, and we are still busy. But these marker days help us to pause, pull back, and ponder what has happened and where we are headed.
For several days now, the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 has been running through my mind. (John 6:1-15) I don’t know why; it’s not very “Christmassy.” As I read it again this week, the line the spoke to me was the one above, about gathering up the fragments. It was as if I was being told to gather up the leftover pieces too, so that nothing would be wasted. As we close out this year, what are the fragments we are to save? I don’t know what they might be for you, but let me suggest some that are important to me. The fragments are the places where I can look back and see God at work when I hardly noticed it at the time. For those of you who know us, you realize that this year both Steve and I lost our mothers, and last month Steve was in a terrible work accident, yet survived. Clearly God was at work through all of those large events. We see that clearly now. But look closer at this year, and I can notice new relationships in our lives. I can see times when God provided courage and strength when I certainly did not have it on my own. There were days that were completely filled with His forgiveness and grace. There were smaller stories in the year which taught me about God’s provision. There were times of contentment and peace when all around me felt chaotic. There were times when I had to let go, which is always painful, so that God could do something greater. I am called to gather up the lessons from this year, times when I have learned again how much God loves me and have grown to trust God even more. As I do, I am humbled by the basketsful of blessings.
Every time I have moved to a new home, I have gone through the old home room by room, recalling the good times in that room, thanking God for them, for being in that place, for meeting my needs there. As we are about to leave a year behind, what about you? Where are the places God has taught you valuable lessons this year? Can you name the specific times? Perhaps we need to go through this year, room by room, story by story, and thank God for being in that place, meeting our needs and showing us the way. We will be picking up the fragments to carry into the new year so that nothing will be wasted. And when tomorrow comes, it will be a new day, a new year, new blessings, new lessons. And with confidence and strength, God will lead us.
Blessings on the journey!