“Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” II Kings 4:3-4
We began reflecting on Preparing for the Impossible Part I in April by looking at the story of the precious widow in II Kings 4 who finds herself unable to pay her debts. A creditor is demanding she turn over her sons to be his slaves. She needs a miracle and appeals to the prophet Elisha to help since her husband faithfully served his ministry.
Elijah instructs her to borrow as many empty jars as possible from her neighbors. Then to go into her house, shut the door, and with her sons help, pour her single flask of olive oil into the multiple jars, being sure to set each aside after each is filled.
What?! Elisha, did you not hear the inventory of what is in the house? That would be only ONE flask of olive oil. Maybe Israel’s spiritual state is causing you to go over the edge?
Let’s also think about the possibility of awkwardness or even ridicule. This precious widow approaches her neighbors asking them for empty containers. The nosy neighbor down the way inquires, “What are you doing with the container?” “Oh, I have a flask of olive oil I am using to fill up more containers.” “But if you transfer the olive oil from your flask to this jar, what’s the point? I know you are distraught over losing your husband. Perhaps you need to talk to someone.”
When I ponder about how God is about to do the impossible in her story, I see several ways the widow made room in her heart and circumstances for Him to do so.
*Belief that God operates in the realm of the impossible. When Elisha directed her to go to her neighbors and fetch the containers, the widow did not shut him down or search for another plan. She remained opened to unusual results from ordinary actions.
*Belief that God will work through people around her to bring about the impossible. The widow enlisted the help of her neighbors to lend her the containers and her sons to help fill them. Notice that God gives her sons the joy and awe of seeing the impossible as she exercises faith.
*Belief that God will take care of her reputation even if others respond with misunderstanding, doubt, or laughter. She doesn’t have control over how others respond and so she surrenders how she looks in the situation.
Like the widow I can resonate with being in financial distress at times as God gives me the opportunity to trust Him by faith. My salary and ministry expenses are met through donations from faith filled believers to Sacred Story. Thankfully I have not found myself facing the stress of creditors coming after me! However, there are times I look around, only seeing a “flask of olive oil” and think, how am I and the ministry going to keep making ends meet?
During these times I look to God, offer my small flask of faith and pray for Him to come through in ways that only He can. I can testify to many impossible financial situations becoming possible over the years. People’s generosity toward the ministry are like the gifts of containers from neighbors. Then God uses the joining of generosity and faith to overflow blessing to those who receive the oil of the Holy Spirit’s encouragement through the ministry.
Almost half way through the year, I am looking at the ongoing financial needs for the ministry for 2018. It feels impossible right now and yet I continue to offer my “flask of olive oil” by faith, however weak my faith may be. I also let go of how people view me; sometimes that’s more easily said than done.
Have you received encouragement from Sacred Story through the blog entries, women’s stories, materials, retreat, equipping for your sharing your story and/or connection to others? If so, will you prayerfully consider giving a “container for the oil of hope” to reach others by making a financial contribution? I am looking to the Lord for about $4500 for the remainder of the year. As you feel prompted follow this secure link to donate online. All gifts are tax deductible.
I’ll be honest – when I began writing this post, sharing about financial needs was the farthest thing from my mind; however, as the Spirit leads I sense Him asking me to take the faith step of doing the “normal” or “familiar” thing by asking you to consider giving. I am trusting Him to make all things possible once again in the financial area. Thank you for thinking about this and praying for God’s provision!
Like our sister in II Kings who trusted God may we continue to offer our faith and obedience to the One who delights in doing the impossible.