What a Little Oil Could Do For You

When prompted to do something, we all have a tendency to tell God and others that we do not have enough resources to do that thing instead of reaching out and taking hold of it. If we are starting a new project at church, wanting to reach those in our community, we tell ourselves that we do not have enough money. If someone is asking us to volunteer our time and give energy to something that we have been praying about for years, we tell them that we do not have enough time, enough knowledge or enough people to be able to make a difference. If we have visions and plans for a business venture that will supply food for millions, we complain that we do not have enough education or charisma to do that. We always look at what we do not have instead of what we do, and instead of moving into our destiny, we stay imprisoned in our situations.

Now a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant, my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD, and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil” (2 Kings 4.1, 2, NASB).

This woman had next to nothing and was in great need because of the loss of her husband. She went to the prophet Elisha asking him to help her out in some way as she was about to lose the little that she still had to the creditors who had a claim on her life. Elisha could have asked God to rain down manna from heaven, or could have prayed that her house would be miraculously paid off. If he would have done those things it would have been sufficient, and the widow would have left satisfied and blessed. And yet, Elisha turned to her and asked her what she had in her house.

If I were this woman, I think I would have grown a little frustrated with Elisha and looked for another prophet to go to-did she not just tell him that she was dirt poor? With sarcasm she told Elisha that all she had was a jar of oil, just to reiterate the fact that she did not have anything. However, what she had was of great worth and Elisha pointed that out to her in verses 3 and 4 saying: “Go borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not just get a few. And you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out into all these vessels, and you shall set aside what is full.”

This is wonderful stuff! Elisha recognized that she did not need a lot to make a big impact for her family. All she needed was to capitalize on what she possessed, and therein was her salvation, her miracle. God equips us all with varying degrees of gifts, talents and resources, and what he desires is that we make use of those things instead of pining after what we do not have. What is in our house, in our life, in our community that we can use? No matter how seemingly insignificant that thing may be, when we place it in the hands of the Lord, he is able to feed multitudes and change nations with it. That is exactly what God did for the widow. The story concludes:

So she went from him and shut the door behind her and hers sons; they were bringing the vessels to her, and she poured. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not one vessel more.” And the oil stopped. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest” (2 Kings 4.5-7, NASB).

What a powerful ending and an even more valuable illustration. Like this widow, I believe that all of us alike, need to stop focusing on what we do not have. Although it would be so great if we had all of the resources in the world at our disposal to do as we please, God just does not work like that. He gives us one, or two, or three things that we can use and stretches them farther than we can ever imagine when we place our full trust in him, instead of resources.

Excerpt from Dancing on Hot Coals. If you have not read it yet, make sure you get your copy on Amazon.com. And if you have read, I appreciate reviews!

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