Faith Refresher based on The Widow's Oil
Note: This devotional is based on 2 Kings, Chapter 4 (1-7): The Widow's Olive Oil
"They will not take my boys from me…"
The mere thought of losing her two sons terrified her. Not only had her husband’s death left her a widow and a single mother, but she discovered his unpaid debt came with a high price...One that required her sons to become slaves if she didn't clear his debt.
She needed to remain strong, but her hope and options were fading fast.
With determination to keep her family together and protect her sons, she refused to give up. She decided to pay Elisha a visit. Elisha had regarded her husband as a God-fearing man. He’d know what to do.
She broke down in tears as she told Elisha the situation. Her instinct was right. He wanted to help her.
“What can I do to help? What do you have in your house?” he asked.
She thought about his question carefully, but after considering all of her possessions, she still came up short. She was broke. Penniless. She had nothing to offer anyone but empty pockets and a heavy heart.
There was only one thing worth mentioning and it wasn't much. Surely, it wouldn't solve her problems...
“I don’t have anything there at all,” she confessed, “except for a small jar of olive oil.”
More than enough
In 2 Kings, Chapter 4, we find a woman in a tough situation. In the midst of grieving the death of her husband (a man from the company of prophets), she receives terrible news. Her husband’s creditor threatens to turn her sons into his slaves if she doesn’t pay his debt. (Creditors weren’t playing games back in those days. They meant serious business.)
His threat sends her to prophet Elisha in tears. She’s worried and needs help, and Elisha provides her with a solution. The answer to her problem isn’t something she has to go out and find. It doesn’t require her to spend money or wait for a certain period of time before it manifest. He reveals she already has what she needs. This woman needs a miracle. Although she doesn't initially recognize the worth of her olive oil, the small jar becomes the answer to her big prayer. God multiplies something she already possesses, proving that her small jar was more than enough.
Elisha instructs her to go around and ask all of her neighbors for empty jars and then pour her oil into the jars. He specifically tells her, “Don’t just ask for a few.” He commands her to set high expectations instead of limiting herself based on her circumstances. Because she asked for many jars as opposed to a few, she was prepared to receive an abundant blessing.
We can't settle for less based on what we see. If we want more, we must create room to receive more. Don’t let the size of your seed dictate the return.
A little goes a long way
The widow immediately went to work and started pouring oil into the jars, just as Elisha instructed. When all the jars were full, she told her son to bring another one, but he told her there were no more empty jars to bring. As soon as they ran out of jars, the oil stopped flowing.
Notice: The oil stopped flowing after she filled every jar. Not before. She didn’t run out of oil first; the oil ceased after her need was met.
At some point, the widow’s perception shifted. We first find her crying out to Elisha (rightfully so) and in distress over her sons' future. However, the woman pouring the oil exudes a new confidence about her situation. She stopped focusing on her lack and prepared for a blessing. When all of the jars were full, she told her son to bring more. She developed a spirit of expectancy. Now we don't know how many jars she requested, but we do know it was more than a few (I doubt a handful would keep those creditors away). She expected her oil to fill every jar she borrowed, and it did. God didn’t leave her hanging. He met her right where she needed him.
Elisha didn’t tell the widow what to do with the oil until after she filled every jar. She was steadfast in her assignment and carefully followed his instructions without knowing if the oil would cancel all of her husband’s debt. She never wavered or paused to question if his plan would actually work out.
She poured without knowing the outcome.
She poured without knowing if Elisha’s solution would provide a surplus of income to save her sons from slavery.
She poured because she had reached a place of desperation and needed to experience a breakthrough.
She poured because doing something to improve her situation in that moment was better than waiting for permission.
She poured until she had nothing else to give.
When she completed her task, she was blessed for her obedience and received more than she needed. She received her miracle.
What do you have?
“I don’t have anything except…”
Have you ever stated something similar? Maybe you look at what other’s have and feel your gift is inadequate. Or you’re not where you want to be in life so you feel you don’t have anything to offer yet. You don’t need that fancy degree, six-figure business, award-winning script, or team of investors to make a difference right now. If that’s your goal, then cool. But you don’t need any of those things to start. A journalism degree isn’t necessary to start writing. You don't need a gym membership to lose weight. Start with what you have in this moment.
We all have something to offer right where we are, no matter how small or invaluable it looks in our own eyes. God can multiply what we have to bless us as well as people who cross our path. But we have to give Him something to multiply.
Imagine if the widow had ignored Elisha’s advice. What if she never poured her oil into those empty jars because she truly believed she had nothing to offer? Her life story would most likely have a different outcome, and not one with a happy ending. Instead, she chose to take the tiny amount she had to give and pour until she had nothing left because she believed it would lead to her miracle.
We don’t always have much to give, but we can start somewhere. I used to believe I needed to have certain things or accomplishments before I started. Today, I have my pen, laptop, and a piece of paper. I’ll keep pouring into these pages, even when I don’t know where this road will lead me. But even in the uncertainty and mystery, I’m expecting God to do big things.
How about you?
Don't count yourself out based on your perception. God sees the end before the beginning. He knows what our small seeds will become! Choose to create an atmosphere of expectation. Ask for more, and be willing to keep pouring even when you don't know how things will play out. You may not understand God's plan but know He won't leave you hanging. He'll continue to multiply. We just need to be willing...
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