2 Kings 4:1-7 The wife of a prophet was left a widow along with her two sons. Women in those days had no means of support other than their husbands or families. There were some debts outstanding and her creditors were going to make slaves out of her sons to pay the bill. So she went to Elisha, the chief prophet. He asked what she had in her house.
The first word out of her mouth was “Nothing.” Then she remembered she had a small flask of oil Elisha told her to borrow containers from all her friends and neighbors, bring them into the house, shut the door, and fill the containers with oil. She did as she was told and filled all the containers. Then Elisha told her to sell the oil, pay her debt and live on the rest. God used the little she had to supply a need.
I think God asks us the same thing: “what do you have?” And often our answer is the same as the widow’s: “Nothing.” Until we remember, oh, I have a little bit of talent. I can sing, I like to entertain, I can cook a pretty good dinner, I can play a musical instrument, I have organizational skills, I have tech skills, I’m friendly, I could probably be a greeter, etc. Just as the widow brought containers into the house to fill, we need to bring whatever we have into “the house,” the House of God, the Church. God will take what we offer him and use it to supply a need.
When God called Moses to go to Egypt and deliver the Israelites, he protested that he didn’t have the ability, he couldn’t speak, “What if they won’t believe me?” God asked him what he had in his hand. It was a dirty, old shepherd’s staff. I think Moses might have wondered why God was interested in his staff. But God used it to stupefy the Egyptians, to open the Red Sea, and bring water out of a rock.
I wonder if the widow questioned what Elijah told her to do? That is not inferred in Scripture. But, putting myself in her place, I think I would have wondered just a bit, how my little bit of oil was going to fill all the containers I collected. It took a leap of faith on her part to keep on pouring. Imagine her excitement when the first container was full of oil, and she asked her sons to bring her another one. I think after a few more successes she could have thought, “I can really get into this.” You might feel the same way when God uses something you have given to him to minister to someone or bless them.
A young lady in one of the churches my husband pastored was pregnant and not feeling well. She and her husband were living in a travel trailer and I went to visit her one day. I saw her sink full of dirty dishes and without even thinking, I said, “I’m going to wash our dishes,” and proceeded to do so. Years later I saw that young lady, now much older. She said, “Do you remember when you visited me and did my dishes? You will never know how much that meant to me, and blessed me.” I thought, “Wow, just doing someone’s dishes blessed them?” Jesus said if we give a cup of cold water in his name we will be blessed.
I think the Lord continues to ask, “What do you have.” Instead of answering, “Nothing,” let’s take the little we have a give it to the Lord and watch him multiply it to bless others and meet a need.