Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Stay at the Widow's House

How do people progress through tough times, tight circumstances, fearful financial constraints? We have gone around the mountain, at times, when we should have scaled it. We have had seasons of abundance but then our "brook" would dry up.When your brook dries up, and the ravens no longer come to feed you, it's possibly time to move to the widow's house. That's what the prophet Elijah was told to do.

I've been to the widow's house, literally and figuratively. When I was little, I used to go and visit Mrs. Katz,a sweet Jewish lady, a widow who swam every day at the Y, and who made me delicious chicken soup with matzo balls. She had meager resources, and lived in a tiny apartment near a crummy part of the city. But she was always peppy and full of vim and vigor. She impressed me, at that young age, as someone who was not destitute or a victim of circumstances, but rather, a fiesty fighter.

It's not as bad as you think when you stay at the widow's house. Miracles can happen there.

Provision for you can occur in the most unlikely places. I think that's what is happening with me, in my life. Things are getting crazier but more meaningful. Ever since last spring, when I came down with Mono and then all our vehicles died and $17,000 later we were back to square one with two (finally) necessary vehicles but less resources. What had we accomplished but fighting through sickness and financial loss? It happens to many. But then more losses started occurring, and our brook is really drying up. The ravens do not come and drop food down. We are asking God to provide, to sustain us.

7After a while the brook dried up because there was no rain in the land. 8And the word of the Lord came to him:9 Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you. (1 Kings 17)

The prophet who had proclaimed "no rain!" as a sign of judgment against the wicked king Ahab, who walked in miracles, was often affected by the consequences of these signs and miracles he did. If there is no rain, there is no food growing. God sends him to the brook Cherith- but it then dries up. Then God sends him to the widow of Zarephath- of all things! A widow- with her last bread stick to eat (if you will) is supposed to provide for the great prophet Elijah? What an irony.
But it's interesting to note- God has "commanded" her to provide for him. Somehow she got the message from God of her role in this interesting scene.

It all goes to show- you never know WHO God will use in your life, and WHAT circumstances will be the forerunner to your expansion. You can go from a dried up brook and no food to an overflowing oil jar and a bin of flour that stays full- no matter how much you use. If you're at the widow's place- you'll be fine, and so will she.

In the Bible, you couldn't find a more destitute figure than a widow or an orphan. There were no public systems of welfare and sustenance. There were no subsidized housing and food stamps. There wasn't anything of substance in a widow's life. A widow, in biblical times, was the picture of complete, utter dependence on God. But that is everybody's reality- if you remove the veil of those things we think are supporting us, that we rely on.

I never felt afraid at Mrs. Katz's house. There was plenty to eat, and there was peace in abundance. There was laughter and dreaming. An eighty year old lady and a little child (me) enjoyed such abundance. And I am thinking back on that picture to fortify me.

Until the day that I see the rain of abundant provision or the overflow of increase, I wait at the widow's house- the place where just enough for today is what I see before me. But that's not what I am looking at. I'm looking at that vat of blessing- for all that I have put my hand to and have not looked back- and I see it pressed down, shaken together, and running over.

All this I see from my stay at the widow's house.

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