Friday, October 22, 2010
I've been thinking a lot about Elijah lately. In obedience to the Lord, Elijah gave the king a message: "You're not getting any rain or dew these years unless I say so." (You can read this story for yourself in 1 Kings 17.)
Then the Lord tells him to flee -- sends him to a brook to drink the water and receive charity from birds. Relying on the charity of birds doesn't sound like a responsible plan. And then the brook dried up because there was no rain -- at his word.
When the brook dried up, the Lord told him to go to Sidon (Lebanon). "See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."
A widow? That pretty much guaranteed poverty and want. But Elijah went and found her. She was gathering sticks. Her son must have been very young, or he would have been gathering the sticks. When he asks her for some bread, she answers with reference to the Lord, the Living God -- and explains that she is making the last meal for herself and her son. They plan to eat it and die. All she had was a handful of flour and a drizzle of oil.
Doesn't that excite you? God chose a woman on the edge of starvation to 'provide' for His prophet. In a way, though, He chose to provide for a woman on the edge of starvation through His prophet. Here's this woman with some knowledge of the Living God, and nothing in the bank, and one pathetic meal's worth of food, and God says she's appointed to provide. The prophet tells her to give him a little first, and that God said her bin of flour would not run out, and her oil would not run dry until the Lord sent rain. And she believed him.
I wonder what would have happened if she had said 'no'. She would have starved, I think -- and her son. But the prophet would have been provided for through some other widow.
I think every time she opened that jar and looked inside, it looked nearly empty. I think every time she went to cook it was an act of faith. And every time she ate, it was food from nothing. The Bible says, "The just shall live by faith." And: "we walk by faith and not by sight."
Sight says to go to the land where His name is known, find the richest, most powerful religious leader in that town, and make your appeal. It does not say to go find a Lebanese widow with NOTHING and ask her to be your hostess.
Sight takes water from cisterns -- planned in advance, filled by careful engineering, and guarded over seasons. And it toils to bring forth a harvest of grain, to grind it, to store it, to ration it, to hoard it.
Faith takes water from the Rock and bread from the desert. Faith reaches into the jar and pours out the 'last' drop of oil, and hands it to someone else. And Faith eats, too.