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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Empty jugs


The story begins this morning with a widow woman facing a debt she cannot repay.  She is worried that she will lose her two sons - simply because they would become the "means" of repaying her debt as they would become the slaves to the debtor if she could not repay the debt.  Her husband has been a prophet - a godly man.  I imagine she wonders why this catastrophe is upon her since she likely has lived pretty close to this guild of prophets and their "set apart" lifestyle for a good many years.  She comes to Elisha - one of the major prophets of the Old Testament - seeking his help.  She implores him to consider her plight.  In response, he begins to wonder what he might be able to do to assist.  In those days, prophets were rarely wealthy men or women - they lived by the standards of the day, occupying their time with the normal pursuits of the day such as farming, tending the animals, working with clay or wood, etc.  But...today, I want us to focus on his answer to this woman and the importance of her response.

Elisha said, “I wonder how I can be of help. Tell me, what do you have in your house?”  “Nothing,” she said. “Well, I do have a little oil.”  (2 Kings 4:2 MSG)

I think Elisha may have seen the situation as an opportunity - the woman was seeing it as an impossibility.  He asks what she has - she declares what she doesn't have!  Isn't that just like us?  We are so quick to discount what we possess because we see it as insignificant in comparison to the "demands" being made upon us.  Why do we gravitate to the "little" instead of seeing the "much" in our circumstances, talents, or abilities?  I think there is something we might all need a little reminding about - we serve the God of "much" not the "little".

So, the story goes on to tell us about the woman being instructed to collect every available bottle, jar and pot from the town.  She goes about collecting these, stacking them up in her home, until every last "empty" one is in her possession.  Now, this may not seem like much at first, but do you see something occurring in this activity on her part?  She is not sure "what" will happen, she just knows if she brings everything which has been declared "empty" into the presence of God, the "empties" are right where they need to be!  

We often don't bring our "empties" to God's presence - because we see them as "empty" - something which contains nothing of importance.  Yet, when you really stop to consider this situation, you will realize without an "empty", God has nothing to "fill"!  So, the next time you tell yourself you are just an "empty" in some regard, you are just really saying to God, "I have a little space you can fill up!"  

In bringing these empty jars to Elisha, the little she had became so much more than she needed to satisfy the debt owed by her husband.  In fact, she is able to live on what's left.  God not only filled the "empties" with enough to provide for today's need, he filled enough "empties" to provide for the future needs, as well.  The thing is, when we are willing to give our "little" into his care, taking steps to bring what has been emptied out into his presence, we find he fills beyond our capacity to contain!

I often hear people saying stuff like "Oh, I never could do that" or "I just don't have what it takes".  The truth be told, neither did Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, Joyce Meyers, or Charles Stanley (to name only a few).  The thing each had in common was more than the emptiness that needed to be filled - they also brought the "little" they had into the presence of God and in turn, he filled.  The empty parts of each of us are exactly what God needs.  It is in the emptying we become ready to be filled.  

My hope for you today - you will stop telling yourself the "little" you have is not enough in God's hands.  For it is in the bringing of the "little" into his presence where we see the impossibilities become possibilities.  Just sayin!