Gathering the broken pieces

Daily Reading for August 9

There is a great waste of power in our failure to appreciate our opportunities. ‘If I only had the gifts that this man has I would do the large and beautiful things that he does. But I never have the chance of doing such things. Nothing ever comes to my hand but opportunities for little commonplace things.’ Now, the truth is that nothing is commonplace. The giving of a cup of cold water is one of the smallest kindnesses anyone can show to another, yet Jesus said that God takes notice of this act amid all the events of the whole world, any busy day, and rewards it. It may not be cabled half round the world and announced with great headlines in the newspapers, but it is noticed in heaven. We do not begin to understand what great waste we are allowing when we fail to put the true value on little opportunities of serving others. Somehow we get the feeling that any cross-bearing worthwhile must be a costly sacrifice, something that puts nails through our hands, something that hurts till we bleed. . . .

When the great miracle of the loaves had been wrought, Jesus sent his disciples to gather up the broken pieces, ‘that nothing be lost’. The Master is continually giving us the same command. Every hour’s talk we have with a friend leaves fragments that we ought to gather up and keep to feed our heart’s hunger or the hunger of others’ hearts, as we go on. When we hear good words spoken or read a good book, we should gather up the fragments of knowledge, the suggestions of helpful thoughts, the broken pieces, and fix them in our hearts for use in our lives. We allow large values of the good things we hear or read to turn to waste continually because we are poor listeners or do not try to keep what we hear. We let the broken pieces be lost and thereby are great losers. If only we would gather up and keep all the good things that come to us through conversations and through reading, we would soon have great treasures of knowledge and wisdom.

From The Book of Comfort by James Russell Miller, quoted in The Westminster Collection of Christian Meditations, compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild (Westminster John Knox Press, 1998).

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