And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost." (Joh 6:12)
I was reading something today by C. Baxter-Kruger when he drew attention to this verse in a way I had not seen before. He was using it to illustrate how God is concerned with every created thing such that even everything in the fallen creation is not wasted but is gathered up by God and, in his hands, redeemed, included, made useful, transfigured, made to count. Nothing is lost. Nothing is wasted. Every broken piece, every fragment gets to take part in the miracle.
It helped me read this account again with new eyes. Jesus is not worried about mess; he's not just a fussy, tidy-minded kind of person that wants it all put away neatly. Jesus is not OCD. He's not Mary Poppins - 'everything in its place.' Nor is he trying to show off just how big the miracle is: 'watch this, 12 baskets, da dah!!' I think God breathed this beautiful phrase into the pages of Scripture as a vital message hidden in the open: every broken person, every fragmented soul, every person who feels like the leftovers, can get to be included in his Body. Gets to be part of the miracle. And every fragment of our brokenness, of our wounds, our mess, our failures, will not be wasted. God seals the cracks with his gold. Nothing is lost. He gathers it all up in his hands to include, to restore and then to feed others with the grace overflowing from restored lives. This simple, seemingly throwaway instruction to his disciples (we get to be part of the restoration process of others as well as our own) expresses the largeness of the heart of God to bless, to include, to heal, to redeem, to make useful again. It speaks of his desire and ability to make everything able to express the glory and the beauty of his grace. Jesus, thank you.