When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.
– Deuteronomy 24:19-22
Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.
And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”
Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.”
– Ruth 2:1-2
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
– John 2:1-10
Last Saturday night, I went to my work station to write. I went to the “reader” page, available to bloggers, and I read a few posts that were written by other bloggers. I picked up four inspirational books where I had notes regarding quotations and blog post themes. I was inspired by others, but nothing inspired me to write. I turned off the computer and went to bed. I did not have complete writer’s block. I just did not feel inspired to write anything.
As I watched the computer screen go dark, I said to myself, “God will provide.”
Before I turned out the lights, I read two devotions and did a little Scripture reading. The Scripture reading was inspiring, but it did not say “Write about me, now!” One of the two devotions was promising.
After one of the best nights of sleep in a long time, one of my morning devotions was also promising. As my wife and I drove to church, I talked about the morning devotion, which got us both off on various tangents.
Then when the pastor read the Old Testament Scripture, my mind wandered. An inspiration was forming. His message was titled “The Power of a Pittance” and referred to the feeding of the 5000. His repeated catch phrase was “You feed them.” His point was that the disciples offered Jesus a pittance that would barely satisfy one person, maybe not even that, but Jesus used it to multiply that offering so that thousands were satisfied. Jesus met their spiritual needs by teaching them, and then He met their physical needs by feeding them.
So, yes, I did pay attention to the sermon, but I had to make notes regarding Moses’ request to not pick the fields clean.
Ruth must have known this practice. She was the foreigner who had left her family behind in Moab to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, who was a widow. She only needed to meet one qualification. She met each qualification to follow the pickers. She suggested getting grain in this manner to her mother-in-law, Naomi. Of course, Boaz sees Ruth in the field and promises her safety if she only picked grain in his field. It wasn’t a lot of grain, but it kept her and Naomi fed. Of course, that just set up the love story that led to her being the great-grandmother of King David.
My wife worked the fields along with her brothers for spending money, while growing up in El Paso. Instead of keeping the cotton, she sold it, by weight, to the farmer. She hated picking cotton, too much work for too little cash. Her spending money went to buying treats that she would not have been able to afford otherwise.
Then you might wonder why I added the “water to wine” miracle. How does that fit?
I grew up in a dry state, no alcohol sold legally. My parents were law-abiding, so we never got any moonshine or bootlegged beer or wine. My wife offered me some wine for New Year’s Eve while we were dating, my first taste.
When we arrived in Germany three years later, my wife and I took the required “Welcome to Germany” classes. We learned a little conversational German – the mere basics, but we also learned customs and other things. One of the side lessons was how to understand the various wine labels.
A Kabinett wine is made from fully ripened grapes. This is the first and bulk-picked grapes from the vineyard.
A Spätlese is made from grapes that are picked late in the season. This wine is a bit more expensive because the grapes have a fuller flavor than the Kabinett wine.
An Auslese is made from grapes picked outside the normal picking season. This wine is more expensive than the others for the richer flavor and the scarcity of the grapes at this time of the season.
But what if there are still grapes on the vine after the first freeze? The Eiswein is made from these grapes, picked and crushed while frozen, thus “ice wine”. There usually isn’t a lot of this wine. They are bottled in much smaller bottles and the price can be several times more than the larger full-sized bottles of Auslese, which is more expensive than the lower grades already mentioned.
My wife and I treated ourselves to only one bottle of Eiswein. It was delicious.
When the pastor read the passage from Deuteronomy, I did not think of feeding 5000 men and their families with five loaves and two fish. I thought of a wedding banquet. I thought of a master of ceremonies asking why the best wine had been saved for last. I have written before about how there were multiple miracles here. Jesus turned water to wine, but Jesus sobered the master of ceremonies so that the best wine was not wasted on his drunken palate.
But what was the best wine? Could the master of ceremonies have asked a different question? “Hey! Why are you storing Eiswein in earthen jars used for ceremonial washing?”
Jesus used His power to give the wedding guests the best.
But getting back to the Scripture from Deuteronomy, I don’t know about grains or olives. I don’t know if their flavor is enrichened as the ‘fruit’ stays connected to the source of nutrition longer. I imagine there is some difference. The store would not advertise “vine-ripened” if there was not a perceived, or at least imagined, difference. But I know about grapes from a short little lesson in the Army.
God was saying for us to live off our bulk or plenty, but give our best to the foreigner, orphan, and widow – to those less fortunate. If you look at the verses, it looks like we give our leftovers. So, we give our hand-me-downs to the various charities. We lose the concept that the fruit stays connected to the vine longer, thus gaining bolder flavor. But do we ever give our best?
When I was young and stupid, I bought two pairs of tiger shark shoes. They were, at the time, easily four or five times the price of genuine cow leather shoes. The leather was virtually indestructible, but the soles were made from cow leather. I would have the soles replaced as I wore holes in them. It became harder and harder to find a cobbler, and more expensive. Finally, the cobbler said that the stitch holes were getting too loose. This would have to be the last time for resoling the shoes. I gave the shoes to a mission in Augusta, GA. The very next day, I saw a homeless guy thumbing a ride on the main road, a block from the mission. He was smiling from ear to ear and showing off his brand new pair of tiger shark shoes to everyone who passed.
Does the pastor’s sermon theme still apply? We may give a small portion that to us is insignificant, a pittance. What God does with us giving just a small portion of our best is something else. He will multiply that gift so that many will benefit.
My blog is my pittance. I have just passed my first-year anniversary a few days ago. It isn’t much, but I know that God uses these little stories to encourage people around the world. I try to do my best each day with the help of God.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.