Yesterday morning in church a friend told me how much she was enjoying reading my blog posts. She said, “I can’t seem to figure out how to comment, though.” I can completely identify with that. I’m so technically challenged that in my frustration sometimes I don’t even try to figure it out. It hurts my brain. I’m not saying that’s how my friend feels, but I get where she’s coming from. She shared with me a very interesting perspective she had on my last post, “When Helping Someone Doesn’t Make Sense.” I’ve been thinking about it all morning. Thank you, Jill, for causing me to stretch my brain and think more deeply. If you haven’t read my previous post, you’ll need to do that so you’ll understand this post better.
I’ve replayed over and over again that day when I offered to give a young woman twenty dollars worth of gas to put in her van. I never asked her if she was out of gas. I just assumed she was so I’m going to continue with that assumption. Why would a pregnant young woman spend hours at a convenience store parking lot in the wind and chill holding up a cardboard sign that read, Need Gas, if she wasn’t on a near empty tank? I had been confused by the fact that God had directed me to help her only to discover her tank was nearly full and didn’t even need the twenty dollars worth. My friend, Jill, said her first thought was this: Because gas spilled over before the nozzle clicked, what if God supernaturally blessed both the young woman and myself by filling her tank to overflowing?
Wow. What if……
I thought about the Old Testament passage in 1 Kings 17:7-16. There was a famine in the land of Israel. By the word of the prophet Elijah, God had shut up the heavens and withheld rain. God’s people had continually rebelled against Him while under the rule of evil kings like Ahab who led them astray. God provided for Elijah during this famine, though, by sheltering him beside a brook and sending the ravens to feed him. When the brook dried up, God sent him to a widow in the town of Zarephath who would feed him with the last of her flour. She and her son were starving. This is what Elijah said to her:
“Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.'”
The widow did as Elijah instructed and, behold, there was food every day for them as long as Elijah remained in her home and until God sent rain. The jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry.
There are some beautiful truths here:
God performs miracles.
Picture a jar of flour that had been scraped dry. Nothing gone to waste. No money to buy more. Yet, every day, the widow would reach in and find enough for her daily bread. Not just enough for her and her son, but for a stranger, as well. A man she had never met before. A man in need just like herself.
Picture a jug of oil that had been drained of its last drop. Nothing gone to waste. No money to buy more. Yet, every day, the widow would turn it upside down and out would pour enough for her daily needs. Not just enough for her and her son, but for a stranger, as well. A man she had never met before. I man in need just like herself.
I heard a friend teach on this passage several years ago and I’ve never forgotten this one truth: I am not the oil.
Oh, dear…I feel the tears pooling in my eyes.
I am not the oil. But, I know Who is! And He never ceases to amaze me. He is God of wonders and He is the same God today that He was when He fed the widow of Zarephath. All she really needed was a heart with a willingness to obey. She did as Elijah, the man of God, instructed her to do and God blessed her. It was a miracle.
We’re all vessels…whether a jug or a jar or gas nozzle…we’re all to be vessels in God’s hands. He can take a little and fill to the brim. So much so that when we’re tipped over we pour and pour and pour…
…and those God puts in our path of blessing are swept up in the overflow of God’s goodness.
Was it a miracle that God performed before my very eyes when I helped a stranger in distress? Was it a miracle when He filled her gas tank to overflowing and it spilled over, down the side of her rickety old van and onto my feet? What if…
I think that anytime we step out in faith to help someone in need, God performs a miracle. Through me, He provides, protects, and preserves. It may not look like it to me, but it does to the one who receives my help. My only hope is that even though I didn’t understand it at the time, that young woman did. My hope is that she knows God is really the oil…