By Harriet Michael
And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” John 6:12 (ESV)
I first noticed this verse in an old handwritten book my father has on his shelf. It was handed down to him by his mother who got it from her mother. It appears to be an old journal of some type. On the pages of the book are poems gathered and carefully written by its first owner. Some are famous poems while others are original work by family members. My grandmother and even my father have some original poems hand written by them in this treasured book. The book is titled, “Gathered Fragments” and this verse is written in beautiful penmanship on the first page.
These words in scripture were actually an instruction by Jesus to his disciples after the miraculous feeding of five thousand people. The crowd which gathered to hear Jesus was hungry. It was lunchtime and the people were without food. Most of them had gathered spontaneously without planning ahead even enough to have brought lunches. Rather than going home, the disciples found a little boy with a small lunch of five loaves of bread and two small fish. After blessing the food, Jesus broke it into pieces, and offered it to the hungry crowd who consumed it eagerly. Then, when the crowd had eaten all they wanted, the disciples were told to “Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost.”
Do you keep old photos and relics from years gone by; polished and put in a place of honor in your home or give them away as special gifts? My father has a plaque hanging in his home of an old letter he wrote to his mother from camp when he was a child. His sister found the letter and made a very special birthday gift for him one year. Maybe you have carefully held onto family heirlooms so you can pass them to the next generation. Or perhaps, you gather fragments in other ways. Maybe you can produce for winter eating or maybe you gather and dry herbs, fruits, or vegetables.
There are so many ways to gather fragments. Through the years, I have learned another way. I have had more than one occasion to help gather the fragments of a loved one’s shattered life. Sometimes these lives were shattered at the person’s own hands, often by sin. Even so, I find myself drawn to the gathering role. While others are shattering through accusations, anger or gossip, my heart aches and longs to help the broken friend or family member to gather his or her life back together. I remember how God has gathered my broken life and put it back together so many times.
What or who needs gathering in your life? What or who is in danger of being lost? Perhaps the shattered, broken life or lives are not people you know. Maybe you learn from the news of others, even groups of people whose lives have been shattered and your heart longs to help in whatever way you can, even if it’s through donations–you are still helping to gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost.
Even when we do simple, seemingly fun things like keeping scrapbooks, or framing old family pictures, we are keeping the heritage of those who came before from being lost– we are gathering fragments. May we be aware of the things around us that need to be gathered. May we always remember Jesus’ instructions to “Gather up the fragments that nothing be lost.”
When the disciples gathered the fragments in the Bible story, they had twelve baskets left over. Though this was a miraculous occurrence, the underlying principle is still valid. If you or I form fragment gathering habits, we will find abundance in our lives too. And so will others whom we bless with our fragments–carefully gathered and lovingly given.
#devotionals , #womendevotionals, #fiveloavesandtwofishes #gatheringfragments
Born in Nigeria, West Africa, as the daughter of missionaries, Harriet Michael is a writer, gardener, wife of over 35 years, mother of four, and grandmother of one.
She holds a BS in nursing from West Virginia University but has discovered her passion for writing. Since her first published article in 2010, she now has over a hundred and fifty published articles and devotions.
Harriet is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Louisville Christian Writers. Her book, “Prayer: It’s Not About You”, a finalist in the 2011 Women of Faith book contest, is set for release by Pix-N-Pens Publishing Company.