One man left behind. One woman left out. One sock somewhere between the dryer and the drawer. One last piece of pizza. The remnants.
I love remnants. They're always the best, aren't they? They sort of feel like a bonus, almost. Except in those cases where you are the remnant. Then you can't help but feel a little lost. A little neglected. A little unwanted, maybe. Or maybe a little blessed.
You ought to feel blessed. Because God does incredible things with remnants.
I'm thinking about a baby by the name of Moses, caught in the reeds. As Pharaoh systematically destroyed every young Hebrew, Moses floated down the Nile in a basket, only to be scooped out, saved, and taken straight to Pharaoh's palace as a child of the king. The only boy to survive the genocide. The remnant of a generation gone. And when the time came, Moses led God's people out of Egypt, away from slavery, and en route to the Promised Land. (Exodus)
I'm thinking about a woman named Rahab, who was a prostitute in the city of Jericho. God handed the city over to His people with the instruction to kill everyone and destroy everything. Except Rahab the prostitute and the family she had taken inside with her. Except Rahab.... Rahab gets to live. She became the remnant of her people, the last reminder of a strong city demolished by God at the sound of a ram's horn. And she became a distant grandmother of David, the king after God's own heart, and a more distant grandmother of Jesus, the Messiah of God. (Book of Joshua)
I'm thinking of a crippled little boy named Mephibosheth, who wasn't crippled, I don't gather, until his daring escape in the arms of a slave who saved him from the annihilation of his entire family. Mephibosheth was Saul's grandson, Jonathan's son. David and Jonathan were the best of friends until in a fit of jealous pursuit, Jonathan was killed alongside his sinful father Saul in battle. David had made a pact of goodness with Jonathan, and now his friend was gone. To make things worse, two hitmen in Saul's descendants set about to wipe out every remaining child in the family line...and only Mephibosheth escaped. He became the remnant of his family, of Jonathan's line and of Saul's. And when David discovered the only living son of his friend, Mephibosheth sat at the king's table for the rest of his life. In addition to receiving his family's inheritance. (2 Samuel)
I'm thinking about a man from Edom named Hadad. Edom, the family of Esau, Israel's brother but not God's chosen son. Hadad, the only Edomite to survive the slaughter of David after he conquered their city. He was the remnant of his people in a long line of leftovers. Yet when God pronounced judgment on Solomon and decided to tear the kingdom away from him, Hadad the remnant Edomite became God's chosen rebel-rouser and leader of the revolt. He carried out God's judgment, knowingly or unknowingly, and his name is written in God's storybook. (1 Kings 11)
Remnants. All of them. They are called so in Scripture. But therein lies the beauty, too - each of these remnants has a powerful place in God's story. Their names are there, along with their descriptors: remnants. Leftovers. The last ones.
When we look at their stories, we see clearly how God uses them. Look a little deeper and you find the hidden, yet obvious, truth:
God uses remnants to make or keep a promise.
He used the remnant of Moses to keep a promise of the Promised Land. The remnant of Rahab to make the promise of the coming Messiah. The remnant of Mephibosheth to keep His promise to Saul while also letting David keep his word to Jonathan. (Double promise!) The remnant of Hadad to keep a promise to Solomon.
Some days, I feel like a remnant. Like I'm the last one like me or maybe the only one like me in this whole big world. Some days, I feel like a leftover. And I wonder about my shelf life.
But on those same days, I often find myself encouraged by what God has put in me to do. What He has enabled me to do, and the incredible opportunities He opens up to me even on days when it looks like nothing's coming. That strengthens me. And no, I don't always know what God's up to, but I feel purposed on those days. Exceptionally so.
Then I smile and wonder what God's really up to. Because I know what He uses remnants for. I just wonder what He's promised through me.