READ: 1 Kings 17:7-16. Read this slowly.
(7-9) Eventually the brook dried up because of the drought. Then God spoke to him (Elijah): “Get up and go to Zarephath in Sidon and live there. I’ve instructed a woman who lives there, a widow, to feed you”
(10-11) So he got up and went to Zarephath. As he came to the entrance of the village, he met a woman, a widow, fathering firewood. He asked her, “Please, would you bring me a little water in a jug? I need a drink.” As she went to get it, he called out, “And while you’re at it, would you bring me something to eat?”
(12) She said, “I swear, as surely as your God lives, I don’t have so much as a biscuit. I have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a bottle; you found me scratching together just enough firewood to make a last meal for my son and me. After we eat it, we’ll die.”
(13-14) Elijah said to her, “Don’t worry about a thing. Go ahead and do what you’ve said. But first make a small biscuit for me and bring it back here. Then go ahead and make a meal from what’s left for you and your son. This is the word of the God of Israel: “The jar of flour will not run out and the bottle of oil will not become empty before God sends rain on the land and ends this drought.”
(15-16) And she went right off and did it, did just as Elijah asked. And it turned out as he said–daily food for her and her family. The jar of meal didn’t run out and the bottle of oil will not become empty: God’s promise fulfilled to the letter, exactly as Elijah had delivered it!
THINK: Read the passage slowly again. This time notice the repetitive phrases and words that seem to shimmer. Are there any in this passage that you sense God saying directly to you?
(1) How do you resemble Elijah, the loner who was perhaps content by the solitary brook but now has to venture into Palestinian territory and ask a widow for her last dime?
(2) How do you identify with the widow and feel that Elijah is asking too much? How difficult is it for you to give up the last handful of flour? How difficult is it for you to give up the last handful of flour? Hold out your hand in front of you. Open and close it. Imagine that the amount of flour your hand could hold is all that stands between you and death.
(3) How do you think the widow felt every time she put her hand in the jar and there was another handful of flour?
This is one of those devotionals that I sit in front of and stare at for hours, walk away from, ponder, come back, and still, do not want to tackle. Have you ever read something that you needed to interact with, felt it calling to you, urging you to learn the lesson it is trying to deliver, but you just don’t want to? Lessons like this make me want to just take the day off, skip this devotional, and move on. Why would I decide to blog my way through a devotional that would most definitely challenge me to up my game? And in front of people, too. So far, dear readers, none of my followers are people that I encounter every day, but I know my friends and family read them. And by putting down what I feel this lesson is trying to teach me, I am putting myself in the position of being challenged about putting feet to my faith. And wouldn’t you know….I’ve never been one who agreed with the sentiment: “Those who can’t do, teach.” I can’t just “teach” this lesson. I have to do it too. And after all this, I can’t not share what’s been shown to me through this passage.
As for #1 – there have been many times in my life when I have been quite content to sit by the brook, literally and figuratively. But, one cannot merely sit and while one’s life away. Eventually God asks for movement. Indeed, he requires it. In the case of Elijah, eventually the brook dried up because of the drought. Guess it was time to move. In my case, he allowed my husband to go to jail.
As for #2 – When I read the passage, one of my first thoughts is always: how presumptuous. I know the passage says that God has instructed the woman, so she must be prepared. But how she was prepared we are not told. We don’t know what God told her. All we know is that Elijah is asking her to feed him out of what is supposed to be her last meal. I imagine that the whole time she is preparing the meal for Elijah, she is probably praying, hoping that she is not sentencing herself and her son to death for feeding a stranger, holding out hope that this God of Elijah’s is going to make good on his promise.
As for #3 – If this were me, I would be holding my breath every time I put my hand in the jar, and breathing a sigh of relief every time I found there was more flour there, enough flour there for today.
PRAY: Ask God what might be your jar of flour today–something that needs filling up. It’s okay to tell God he’s asking too much. At first, the widow did just that. Trusting God is a process.
Dear Heavenly Father, you know the jars of flour you need to be filling for me, in my life right now, as do I. Every time you ask me to have a little more faith, to trust you just a little bit more, I wonder if this time is going to be the time you let me fall. Well, you’ve not let me fall yet. But, often I wonder if you might be asking too much. Some days are easier than others. I like those days. But some days, trusting you is hard and I don’t want to have to trust you with any more. Please be with me on those days. Help me to be an example to my children who are watching every step I make. Help me to show them that, no matter how hard today is, you hold all our tomorrows in your hands. You have already prepared those days for us and, today, you are preparing us for them. The strength we gain from remaining steadfast today, will help us to remain steadfast tomorrow. And the little bit further that you push us tomorrow will make us stronger for the day after that, until, before we know it, we have managed to walk through whatever it is you have lead us to, and had strength enough for the journey. Thank you for the easy days, too. The days when we can sit and rest and not work on strength-training. Rest is refreshing and we need it; so thank you for the days that are not hard. Thank you for remembering that we are just dust, and for occasionally requiring just a little less of us than you do on other days.
LIVE: Consider how it would feel to trust God this much. How would your life be different if you trusted God with just a little more every single morning, as the widow did?
I have to be honest. RIGHT NOW, I do not want to think about what my life would look like if I had to trust God with just a little more every single morning. Perhaps because, most days, I feel like I’m living this. I’ve had to have more faith this past 18 months than ever in my life. It’s scary and exhilarating – like a roller coaster with its slow ups and fast downs, twists and turns that flip you upside down, this way and that, only it doesn’t end in 30 seconds. So, for now, my faith is mostly wrapped up in the fact that I’ve not gotten off the roller coaster yet, in choosing to ride it all the way to the end, regardless of when or where it stops.
How about you?