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!

Toothpaste Caps are Useful Tools

So I need to vent a little bit. Please bear with me. A woman in (midlife) crisis is allowed to blow off a little steam once and awhile! Can anyone please, please tell me why on earth my smart and darling children cannot figure out how to put the cap back on the toothpaste tube?! I am forever finding toothbrushes back in their container, towels on the rack, but always the toothpaste cap sitting next to the tube. Really?! And before you flood the comments saying that I can get those tubes with caps attached… yeah, tried that…cap attached but left open!

It always seems to be those little things that keep coming back to bug me. The toothpaste cap, the shower curtain left open, the lights forever on in completely empty rooms, the cupboard doors left open, the pile of shoes at the front door, the … well, you get my point. We always seem to have some little quirk, some little thing that just drives us crazy. And it is usually something that someone else does. Our quirks. No. Not me. Why do we notice them? Why do those seemingly innocent things urk us to the point we are tempted to declare toothpaste cap war in the bathroom? I mean, does it really matter if the cap is on or off?! (Besides the fact that the caps get lost and then the minty gel is dry and sticky and exposed to who knows what sitting on the bathroom sink…)

Come on, I know I am not alone in this quandering. What’s that thing that drives you batty? The way your beloved folds socks? The way your toddler insists on hiding snacks on the shelf for later? That annoying pen flick ? Or maybe it’s someone at work… or worse, a friend at church? And, no, it’s not going to ruin your lifelong friendship, or cause holy war… but it is just that constant dripping faucet that eventually leads to a complete flood.

Recently, our Bible study group was learning about just such little things. The Devil is devious and uses a variety of ways to deceive us… both big and small. In Canada, Satan uses tiny nuggets of temptation to move us ever so slightly off the path of our journeys with Christ. It’s such a subtle thing. We waiver, or compromise, just a bit, and then a bit more, and soon we are heading in an entirely different direction then we intended. I’m sure you’ve heard countless stories of people who got caught in a “little white lie” that soon snowballed into a deep pit of deception. We don’t intend to blatantly disobey… it “just happens”.

I am sure you would agree with me that those other-people-quirks-that-drive-you-crazy habits are ones that are simply not priorities — to them. Toothpaste caps are obviously not forefront in my children’s minds. Which is why we have practices and disciplines that help us stay on the path. Soldiers and first responders practice drills over and over again, so that when a crisis does come, they simply react automatically. Tiny muscle memory procedures that prevent bigger issues later on.

I guess we all have to learn to be a bit more aware. We all need to focus and question and examine our day to day. Is there something I do that is causing grief? Is there something that is a subtle step sideways that just might lead me down the wrong path? Do we need to establish more practice and disciplines that will help eliminate the subtle deviations? Maybe I should just be thankful that the kids brush their teeth… and put up a big sign on the bathroom door: DON’T FORGET THE CAP!