Before I was even old enough to discover that boys existed, I was aware that the actor, Sam Elliott had a great voice, like a swoon-worthy voice. He might be the reason I gave up being a vegetarian when I heard him doing voiceovers for the commercials when he said, “Beef. It’s what for dinner. “
That’s not exactly the motto at our house. More often than not, the expression we use is, “Leftovers. It’s what’s for dinner.“ I tend to be strategic in my menu planning. For example, a pan of lasagna will last almost a week, whereas pork chops only cover one meal's worth. When cooking occurs so seldom, the family doesn’t get tired of eating the same meal several days in a row, they’re just happy there’s something in the house to eat at all. It’s called conditioning.
Because cooking is not my favorite thing to do (not by a long shot), leftovers are our friend.
In other areas of life, leftovers can be a big factor, but not in a good way. Leftovers are all we have left to give to some of the most important things and people in our lives. Leftovers of our time, our energy, our patience, and our full attention.
Years ago, I saw a visual demonstration of this in a sermon. It made a big impact on me even though it wasn’t properly thought out, and I was reduced to tears to keep from bursting out laughing.
The subject was tithing. The preacher had a table set out with apples on top, and proceeded to count out 10 apples and explained that this represented people’s salary. The explanation of tithing went: we have 10 apples, and God only asked for one. Look at all the apples we have left.
Then the demonstration was reversed, the salary, or 10 apples, were set out again as income. Then the preacher withdrew an apple for the mortgage, one for each of the following: insurance, food, fuel, electricity, phone bills, etc. At the end, there was only one apple left. And here’s where the demonstration went awry. The one apple that was left for the tithe was sitting on the table. The preacher picked it up and took a bite out of it. Cruuuuunchhhh!! Please keep in mind a wireless mic was being worn so the sound was startling. The first bite represented an unexpected cost; Cruuuunchhhh then the next bite represented yet another financial surprise. The problem came somewhere between the sound of the actual bites themselves and the fact that there was no time for the preacher to chew the apple. Cruuuuunchhhh!!! It ended with an almost incoherent message about giving God his apples. I think I was laughing too hard to catch it all.
The message though was that we need to give from the top not from what’s left over. And that applies to so much more than tithing. After work, errands, civic obligations, and a 100 other things eat away at our time, the only thing we have left to give our family, friends or loved ones is leftovers: the few minutes between projects or errands, and a lot of times it’s when we’re frazzled and irritated. Maybe it comes down to the old debate of quality over quantity?
We can’t give from the top for everything, but maybe it’s time to look at our priorities and those we love. What do they deserve compared to what we’re giving? It sounds like good advice, but for me, I’m going to put on a Sam Elliott movie, eat an apple and feed Paul leftovers!