1 Kings 17:7-16
The stream in the place where Elijah lay hidden dried up, for the country had no rain. And then the word of the Lord came to Elijah, ‘Up and go to Zarephath, a Sidonian town, and stay there. I have ordered a widow there to give you food.’ So he went off to Sidon. And when he reached the city gate, there was a widow gathering sticks; addressing her he said, ‘Please bring me a little water in a vessel for me to drink.’ She was setting off to bring it when he called after her. ‘Please’ he said ‘bring me a scrap of bread in your hand.’ ‘As the Lord your God lives,’ she replied ‘I have no baked bread, but only a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug; I am just gathering a stick or two to go and prepare this for myself and my son to eat, and then we shall die.’ But Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, go and do as you have said; but first make a little scone of it for me and bring it to me, and then make some for yourself and for your son. For thus the Lord speaks, the God of Israel:
“Jar of meal shall not be spent,
jug of oil shall not be emptied,
before the day when the Lord sends
rain on the face of the earth.”’
The woman went and did as Elijah told her and they ate the food, she, himself and her son. The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’
Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
I think the older we get, the more we are able to discern when the things we are doing is NOT God’s purpose for us. The hardest thing for me has been to yield to His will rather than apply my logic and common sense. Living God’s purpose is a tough walk because faith shows you only the next step. And I’m the sort that reads the spoilers before I watch a movie.
Yesterday we read that Elijah set up camp by a stream during the drought and was sustained by its fresh water and the pickings of wild ravens. Well, that spring dries up in today’s reading. Logic would have told Elijah that if no rain fell, this was a probable outcome at some point and perhaps camping out there might not have been the best idea in the first place. But God was not ready for the prophet to meet the widow in Zarephath. “To every thing there is a season, and a time and purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) And here lies the first truth in today’s readings – that God will show us our purpose at His appointed time. Our job is just to buckle down and have faith enough to trust Him with the timing of things.
The widow whom God designated to help Elijah had not the means to help even herself, but she did so anyway. Very often, we will get asked to step up to a role that we feel we are woefully ill-equipped to do. While the temptation is often to just give up because it is too hard, staying the course can yield surprising results. And that’s the second truth in today’s readings – our scarcity and weakness is an opportunity for God to show His abundant blessings. In fully trusting Him to aid our endeavors, we open ourselves to a life enriched. If she had turned Elijah away, she would never have witnessed the miracle of God’s grace. It must have occurred to her that she shouldn’t spend her last bit of flour on a wild man from the desert. But logic did not prevail and God gave her the opportunity to live out His purpose for her.
When we fail to step up to a calling – because we say we have no time for it, or are too busy, or don’t have the qualifications for the job – do we ever wonder what riches we are denying ourselves in that missed opportunity? If our light is to shine before others, are we doing enough to grasp the opportunities that He sends our way? Food for thought.
(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for the mindfulness and the discernment to walk away from that which does not serve us.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the opportunities He sends our way and the reserves of strength that He gives us to step up to our roles.