At youth events in Oregon and Iowa (and soon at one in Michigan and one in Indiana), I have preached messages from 2 Kings 4:1-7 about pot. Actually, the passage talks about lots of pots…the kind you fill with water or oil (hee hee). It’s a short but powerful story about how God loves to provide for His children according to their faith in His ability to provide. I typed 1 Kings 4 in my blog software’s search bar and found a post from August 8, 2011 on this very topic.
While this post is almost 2.5 years old, it holds some powerful truth rooted in the amazing story in 2 Kings 4. You feeling overwhelmed today? You feeling like you can’t ever catch up or like you will always be behind? Read this post and then start getting your jars ready!
Back in 2 Kings 4, Elisha the prophet meets a woman who is in dire straights. Her husband just died and he had some serious debt. The only collateral his creditors would accept were here two remaining sons. All the widow has to her name is a little oil. If Elisha doesn’t do something, it’s bye-bye kiddos. This woman was overwhelmed.
Traci and I have been there. Early in 2011 we were struggling on a lot of levels, trying to make ends meet financially, trying to keep our marriage strong, our kids growing in the Lord and we launched a couple of new projects just to make sure life stayed interesting. We didn’t have much to offer, but we gave what we had.
Elisha asks the widow to give what she had. She has oil and Elisha reminds her that God works with us where we are, with what we have. He doesn’t wait for us to get better gifts, more money or a better pedigree; He finds us useful today if we’ll but turn to and trust Him. Verse three says it all:
“Elisha said, ‘Go around and ask all of your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.’”
God was ready to ‘pour out’ his blessing and all He requested was a willing, faithful and obedient widow to trust His lead. She didn’t have to have any skills. She didn’t have to have any possessions. She didn’t even have to be debt-free. She just had to be ready to grab the side of the boat and jump out on the water when God said to “come”.
The widow obeyed, the jars were filled with oil from the original jar that had so little in it. Her boys kept bringing in jars and one after another, as God’s goodness overflowed, each jar was filled! When the jars ran out, so did the oil. She sold what she had and was able to pay off her debts and live off the remainder. God delivered in a big way.
Can you imagine the roller coaster of emotions this widow traveled on? What a day! First it started with not having any money and fearing the loss of her two sons. It moved into being part of an unbelievable miracle that created an unheard-of provision for her family. It ended with a house full of jars full of oil — enough to start selling so that slavery could be avoided, with enough left over to provide safety and security for her family. I bet her day started and ended the same way: She was overwhelmed.
I think we’re feeling a bit of that with Overboard Ministries today. Some of the early 2011 struggles are still here today. And sometimes when you can’t see the way of God’s provision, you sit back and pray and trust and hope while you plan, scheme and try to figure out a solution. You’re overwhelmed by obstacles in front of you because you can’t yet see God’s ultimate plan. But He has a plan and often it’s fulfillment seems to hinge on our ability to trust Him to provide using mechanisms already in place. The widow had oil. The widow had friends and neighbors with jars. While God could have miraculously put money in her bank account, he chose what she already had to provide a way of escape.
When Elisha commands her to collect jars in verse three he says, and “Don’t ask for just a few!” She asked God for help and God tested her. He was going to give to her what she had faith to believe He would provide. Then in verse six you see just how much she trusted Him:
“When all the jars were full, she said to her son, ‘bring me another one.’ But he replied, ‘there is not one jar left.’”
They grabbed every empty jar they could find! If you’re overwhelmed today, call out to God for His help. Ask Him for what you need then prepare the ‘jars’ to receive what God has in store. It’s not that we name-it and claim-it, but we must believe that God can deliver in a big way when it comes to our needs. For example, when speaking about wisdom, James says when we ask,
“[we] should believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” — James 1:6-8
You see, God answers prayer consistent with the faith from which we ask. I believe God loves to overwhelm His children with answers bigger than His kids could imagine when they trust Him to do so. Unfortunately, we all-too-often ask like James describes; we know we should pray but we don’t really believe God is going to respond. How do I know? Because we don’t start pulling out the extra jars we’re going to need to receive all of God’s answer.
Today we are overwhelmed by God’s goodness. He filled up more of our jars but we’re banging on doors and asking for more pots. I don’t want to stand before Him one day and discover how much more of His goodness I could have shared in if only I had trusted Him to do what only He could do. Faithless living isn’t for Overboard Ministries and I hope it’s not for you, either. Those who are going to get out of the comfort of the boat and out on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom are going to have to carry lots of jars. There’s no other way!
You ready for God’s blessing? Seek Him and ask Him to show up big, but when you do…you better make sure your jars are ready! Hmmm…that would make an interesting book title…
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!