Sunday, September 21, 2008

Widow's Oil

It begins tragically: her husband, an unknown prophet, has died and left her with debt, and the creditor is threatening to take her two sons as slaves. So she cries out to Elisha, God's representative. How will God handle this tragedy to one of his own? How much is she prepared to hope for?

Elisha asks her what she has in her house. Much like Jesus asked the disciples what they had to contribute to lunch for five thousand families. Or God asking Moses what he had in his hand. What she had was next to nothing. But rather than starting from scratch, God chose to use what she had. What do you have? It's never nothing, at least in my experience. To claim nothing is an insult to God's provision thus far and is a cop-out, an attempt to absolve yourself from any responsibility to be involved in the process of bringing about God's blessing. And that would be to cheat yourself out of the incredible privilege of being used by Him to accomplish His purpose. What do you have that God can use?

What she had was oil. Specifically, "a little oil." Not black gold, Texas tea, a bubblin' crude, but rather olive oil, used for cooking. A common household item, fairly inexpensive but essential. In other words, nothing special. What do you have? Nothing special, and not much of that.

Go and ask for empty containers. And not a few. Here comes the question: How much are you prepared to hope for? This, by the way, is incredibly similar in theme to king Jehoash and hitting the ground with the arrows (2 Kings 13), which is the passage God gave me back in about February to teach me to ask big in faith. How much are you prepared to hope for?

She expressed a need. Elisha asked her what she had. She had nothing but a little oil. Now Elisha tells her to go ask her neighbors for empty containers, and not just a few. Then he says to go inside and shut the door and pour oil into all the empty jars. The time for asking is over. How much are you prepared to hope for?

Of course, it's physically impossible for one small container of oil to fill many empty jars. God is not concerned with that impossibility any more than he is with walking on water or making a donkey talk. How much are you prepared to ask for?

When the last of the jars was full, the oil ran out. No way she guessed just right. God was not going to keep pouring out blessing beyond what she was prepared to hope for. I wonder if at that moment she wished she'd asked a few more people, gone down a few more streets, gone to the doors of people she didn't want to deal with, so that she could have had more oil. I wonder how the neighbors felt about buying oil in containers they had loaned to this woman. I wonder if her creditor was disappointed that she was able to pay?

What do you have? How much are you prepared to hope for? Jesus said a lot of things like, "Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened," "Ask anything in my name, and I will do it." Abundantly, immeasurably beyond all we could ask or even think. God's not going to run out. How much are you prepared to hope for?


Anonymous said...

This brings me back to something my grandma use to always tell me. "Closed mouths don't get fed" and after so long i had finally got the meaning of it. The fact remains that we have to be willing to accept what we ask for. Are we willing to accept all of the blessings or are we afraid. Great post my friend!

Sandra said...

Loved this post~ :)

Static Brain said...

Very great post. I am hoping gor a blessing. One for me and one for you. may God bless you. Thanks for the link. I am linking you back on my blog.


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