I have always loved the miracle in 2 Kings 4. A widow, whose husband had served Elijah, was threatened by a creditor and she had no resources. She and her sons fell through the cracks of the culture.
So God stepped in with a miracle.
But she and her sons did the hard work.
They humbled themselves to ask their neighbors for any empty containers.
They did the hard work of transporting those containers to their home.
Even as a child, I wondered how crowded their little home was with containers.
Did they have a table covered with jars?
Did they collect larger pots that sat on the floor?
What did they expect would happen?
Did they wish that they had collected more containers?
Did the neighbors give their empty containers cheerfully or with questions?
The containers, and their work in collecting them, were the limiting factor on the oil.
Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, used in consecrating priests (Exodus 29:7) and used to comfort the sheep (Psalm 23).
Honestly, I’d never made the connection between this miracle and my own life.
What do I do to leave space (empty containers) in my life for the Holy Spirit?
Am I willing to do the hard work of making this space for the Holy Spirit?
Do I ever shut the door and block out all the cares of the world, focusing on the work the Holy Spirit wants to pour into my life?
While the widow’s oil stopped pouring out when the last container was full, God promises to pour out His Spirit on all flesh. “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)
One of the things on my bucket list is a spiritual retreat. While I should be able to do that in my lovely, quiet, country home, I find too many distractions. The weeds in my gardens, the ever-present laundry and dirty dishes, the stacks of returned piano music that hasn’t yet been filed, the books that are on my “read ME” stacks, even the daily delivery from the postal service.
Part of me longs for taking 24 hours away, and part of me is a bit frightened by what the Holy Spirit will show me.
And today, as I think about the widow and her sons, I have more respect for her and fewer questions about how much more oil she might have had if they had collected more jars.
Elijah said “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and your and your sons can live on what is left over.” (2 Kings 4:7)
It was enough.
And whatever the Holy Spirit reveals, He empowers us to be obedient.