"How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?" (2 Kings 4:2 NIV).
I was sitting in my makeshift office one day lamenting over my financial state. After being laid off from a job I held for eight years, I had decided to go into business. My office is in one corner of the basement of my childhood home behind a folding screen. I have a laptop I bought on an installment plan, a borrowed monitor, a smattering of office supplies, framed pictures, and a cookie jar. I also have a cork bulletin board; it was a treasured find. Several notices are stuck to that board with thumb tacks, but one item stands out. It is an orange butterfly made from sheer ribbon and glitter.
I look at the butterfly whenever I forget where my olive oil is. This happens quite frequently — the misplacement of my oil — but the butterfly always points me back to its origin.
I am convinced that everyone has a small jar of olive oil somewhere, even if they have to do a little work to find it. This idea came to me while reading about the account of a widow and her olive oil (2 Kings 4:1-7). Her husband died leaving an unpaid debt. The creditor was on the way to take her two sons as payment.
Can you imagine the scene and her deep despair? At the same time she is grieving her husband's death, she is also dealing with the emotional turmoil of his debt and the impending seizure of her children. She cried out to the prophet Elisha for help. I believe she had seen him before because her husband stayed within the company of prophets.
Elisha wanted to help her, but he needed something to work with her to help her build her trust in God.
"How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?" He asked.
"Your servant has nothing there at all," she said, "except a small jar of olive oil."
"Never underestimate the power of something because of its size!" I reminded myself.
Elisha put her to work. He told her to go around her neighborhood and ask for empty vessels. He told her to get as many as she could. He gave her instructions to take every vessel, go behind closed doors with her sons, and pour the contents of the small jar of olive oil into each empty vessel.
Elisha told her, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left."
We all have something God can use to work with our faith and bring us His grace. My olive oil is my writing. When I was tempted to throw a pity party after my layoff, God reminded me to go get what He had already given me. Not only that, He promised me that He would multiply it in a way I could never begin to imagine. Every time I write, I pour. He pushes me to find empty vessels to fill with His grace. Much like the widow, I am amazed by His endless provision.
I may have a scrap of an office in a corner of my mother's home and my income may be low, but God has kept me. Every time I reach for a vessel, the oil flows. God continues to grant me favor in business, and although my client list is small, I pour into each one with all that I have. And, you know what? Month after month, the size and quantity of those vessels increases.
You may be going through a desert place on your journey. You may feel like an empty vessel. I pour into you to remind you that God has given you at least a little olive oil. Seek it with passion; find empty vessels and pour until every vessel is filled. God will take care of the rest.
He finishes everything well.
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