This morning I found myself reading 2 Kings 4 and the very familiar story of The Widow’s Olive Oil. Read it as if you are the widow with almost nothing left to give emotionally or physically. Read it as a worn out leader, a depleted parent, or an exhausted teacher. The widow finds herself in a desperate situation–something hopeless, scary, and urgent. So she cries out to Elisha the prophet.
The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
Don’t you just love Elisha’s question, as if the Lord Himself came to you today and asked, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
How can I help you? And what little thing do you have left to offer? Let me take that last little thing and multiply it.
Something about her statement–that she “has nothing there at all. . . except” made me remember the miracle of feeding the five thousand where a boy has only five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:16-18). She has just one small jar. And her one small jar is what she offers.
I love picturing her running around to the neighbors in this extraordinary act of faith. She needed more jars! She needed to expand her capacity to receive the blessing the Lord would pour out. And I love that it’s a private blessing, performed in secret, behind the closed doors that housed just her family.
Think about the little we have left today as a parent, teacher, and leader. Offer it up. By faith, we might expand our capacity to receive how God might multiply the thing we offer Him today to be used to nourish others and provide. It will not be a public demonstration, but a secret blessing behind closed doors.
And it might just sustain us for a lifetime.