First Fruits vs. Leftovers

I wanted this post to be about first fruits. I wanted it to tell you how I have practiced setting aside time in this new year to make God and my spiritual journey a priority. I wanted to brag about how I resolved to pray and study and claim God’s promises. I wanted to tell you all about what methods I had for keeping on track and share with you all the muses and insights I’ve had since the beginning of January. However, I must admit, that the more I thought about it, the more this post is going to be about Leftovers.

My apologies from the get go if you were looking for inspiration. I was hoping to give it to you — I really was! But if your house is anything like mine, you will understand, because we have been living on leftovers for the last few weeks. I have not done a proper grocery shop for eons! It was only yesterday that our refrigerator was once again filled with “fresh” bounty. The kids have survived on scrounging whatever they could find. I have lived on cheese and crackers and fancy red pepper jelly — hosting my own wine and cheese parties (minus the wine) at every lunch. Only I was the solitary guest to the festivities because I happen to like goat cheese and my family does not. The eldest Mitton went back to University to get balanced meals again. At least her Starbucks has fruit smoothies. So much for home cooking. I did discover turkey soup can be repurposed at least 3 different ways. Yup, leftovers it is.

I giggle when I get coffee at church now. Inevitably someone has brought in that leftover tin of cookies to share because they are trying to clear out the goodies in their own homes. Youth group prizes become repurposed chocolates because, well, kids and teens will eat anything sweet. My backyard squirrels are gonna love our old (and now slightly stale) gingerbread house. We are sometimes a little too blessed aren’t we? We celebrated the holidays with Joy and abandon and are now trying to clear out. We attempt to share and not be wasteful. We recycle and repurpose and be good stewards of the wealth. But it’s still leftovers.

Image by Mark Gilder from Pixabay

So, as much as I would like this post to be about first fruits, it’s really about my own leftovers. Because no matter what your understanding of Biblical first fruit disciplines are, I’m admitting to you that I’m not good at it. I encourage you to do your own study on “first fruits”. (You can see my link at the beginning of this post for ideas). There are many scholars out there who can lead you towards various thoughts about what the principle means, but as far as I understand it, the “first fruit” means setting aside the “firsts” for God. Proverbs 3 is a rich passage that not only talks about setting aside the first agricultural fruits as a sacrifice, but also about binding wisdom and knowledge on your body as a reminder to trust in the Lord first — and not on our own understanding of things.

We’d like it to be Christmas all the time. Where joy overflows and abundance of blessings is the norm. But all too often, our lives become filled with the leftovers. God’s work gets put on the back burner because we get too caught up with the mounds of blessings in our own fridges. We recycle the turkey and share the leftover cookies at church. When was the last time you sacrificed your paycheque before your bills got paid? Trusting, in faith, that the Lord will provide as you submit to Him? When was the last time you gave up your only vacation day so that someone else got a break? Do you fit in your prayer list and bible study time before your date night? We all make room for leftovers. We all know it is good to share and not waste. Better to give some offering than none at all, right?

The passage says “…Honour the Lord with your first fruits…and do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight…” Not the third helping of charity, not the plastic container stuck at the back of the fridge that only gets pulled out when it gets slightly stale. He wants our knowledge to be fresh and our sweetest produce to be shared. We give, but we don’t give “the first”. I put in my time but I don’t always make it my top priority. I guess it’s time to clean out my fridge. I’ll see you next week, my friend, hopefully with a fresher start!

Old Testament Promise

Welcome back to a New Year and a new post! I hope you had a relaxing and fun filled holiday. We were on the go a lot (as usual!) but this year, I managed to set aside some time for just chillin’. It was a much needed “sabbath rest”. Perhaps I should post about that sometime.

However, it is not my intention to post about rest this post… in fact, quite the opposite. I’ve been thinking about power and wrath recently. Which seems far away from anything peaceful. I’ve been reflecting on some promises of God over the break, and in particular, this one:

“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.”

Nahum 1:3

It’s tucked away in one of those little books at the back of the old testament; tiny writings about the prophets and their respective prophecies. Nahum prophesied against the wicked Assyrian city of Nineveh and, in turn, comforts the people of Judah, that despite what looked like a dire situation, God was in control and would not allow evil to prevail forever. He is great in power, indeed!

We went with family and friends to see the latest Star Wars movie (The Rise of Skywalker) over the holiday. Now, you have to understand, I am a gracious mom and like a good action movie, so I obliged and got a ticket — but I really have no handle on the mega underworld of Star Wars junkies. I recognize some characters, and can appreciate good special effects, but when it comes to background story, character development, conspiracy theories and general folk lore of the Empire, I admit, I am a little lost. (That baby Yoda of the Mandalorian series is cute, though!) Sensing my loss in the discussion pending the above said movie, my middle Mitton summed it up for me: “Mom, you just need to know that the good guys won.” Profound, eh?

Any good movie, book or series always seems to have that delightful conclusion: Good defeats evil and the “good guys” always win… eventually. The plot twists and turns, and there seems to be no one coming to save the underdog… but eventually the people band together and save the day. Goodness prevails!

But I recognize that storybook happily ever afters are not always as evident as we hope. Perhaps your 2019 has been fraught with pain, heartache and deceit. Maybe you have been angry that God hasn’t answered your prayers. There has been no white-horsed cavalry to come save you from that thing that weighs heavy on your heart. Perhaps you are wishing for revenge. You have seen evil prospering and it is hard to watch as it festers and grows. The guilty seem to go unpunished. But then, we come back to our promise:

“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.”

Nahum 1:3

I’m claiming it today. I want to trust that God will take His vengeance on evil. That my mere fluff of anger at injustices will be but a puff of smoke compared to the storm clouds that God will conjure up. Will you join me? Will you be satisfied with knowing that “the good guys won?” Then I will raise my glass in victory with you, and toast to a new year, and an old, but comforting, promise.

2020 Vision

I have a friend who has a whole collection of those little drug store reader glasses. He needs them to read, but keeps leaving pairs behind when they were of no use to him. Then, he ends up purchasing a new pair because he can’t remember where the old pair are! I’m nearsighted, so wear my glasses to see distances and drive. I’ve hit that age, however, when I need to take off my glasses to read small print, or thread a needle. I’m afraid I might eventually have a collection of drug store readers of my own one day! The Mitton crew are prone to vision issues (apparently!) and 5 out of 6 of us have glasses.

Why do I mention our vision delinquencies? It’s what I’ve been musing about since “2020” is approaching soon… “2020”… of the Gregorian calendar, the 2020th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 20th year of the 3rd millennium, the 20th year of the 21st century, and the 1st year of the 2020s decade. Apparently, it will also be a leap year. All special, if you are into that kinda thing. Fireworks, champagne toasts and midnight kisses for you all! But when I hear 2020, I tend to think of vision. It’s actually “normal” vision according to the optometrists…not exactly “perfect”, but the most accurate when it comes to reading that little eye chart at the office.

Vision can mean more than just eyesight though. Think visions and dreams. Something you imagine. It could be literal or figurative. Vision as in great plans for the future. New Year resolutions? Goals? How interesting that it all comes together under this concept of what we call “vision”. A new year, a new decade even… and the internet will be all a buzz on the top 10’s of the past — with great predictions for the future. What will happen in this new year? How will our lives change? How will we change the lives of others?

Now, I am a big believer in goal setting. I’m not very good at always achieving the goals… but I love to have a plan. I love a good list and work best when checking off the steps. Unfortunately, life does not always work in perfect little check marked boxes. Our lives are influenced by others, by our circumstances, and all the tiny nuances that ebb and flow in our life journeys. Our visions are hampered by our own guilt, shame and sin. We do not have perfect vision. We cannot see, nor predict, what lies ahead. We are like my friend, and leave behind our readers when we don’t need them. Or maybe like me, who must purposefully put aside our glasses when we feel the need to focus on the tiny things in life, when we should be casting our eyes to a wider view of the world.

So, my dear reader, what will your vision be for this 2020 year? Will the Lord be your vision? Like the words of the ancient, Irish Hymn… “Be thou my Vision, oh Lord of my heart…” Will you seek His will and trust in His plans for your life? Will you be devoted to learning all you can to make Heaven’s joys your personal goals? Will you be seeking riches and empty praises of people, or will you dwell in the beauty of Heaven’s sun? Keeping your vision clear and unclouded by the world around us?

It won’t be as easy as reading all the letters on the eye chart. We will forget our specs and abandon them when we think we don’t need the help. We will take our eyes off the goals and focus on our own insecurities and narrow minded points of convergence. Some of us will grow weary of sight and need extra help. Perhaps bifocals, transitions or permanent laser surgery will be metaphors for our pruning and molding this next year. All necessary to improve our vision. But my wish for you in this new year, this new decade, this year with an extra day… is that you will be seeing 2020, and that whate’er befall… He will still be your vision, O Ruler of all…


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