Glenn McDonald asks a penetrating question, “If God wants to do something special in your life this week, will he have space to work?” In II Kings Chapter Four, a widow approaches the prophet Elisha. “My husband is dead,” she says. “His creditor is coming to take my two boys as slaves.”
Seizing children to pay debts was part of Middle Eastern culture eight centuries before Christ. Widows were virtually powerless. Without income and without advocacy in the public square, they and their children might be one day away from starvation.
“Tell me,” Elisha asks, “what do you have in your house?” She replied, “Your servant has nothing there at all, except a little oil.” Pressed olive oil was a critical source of fuel, a key ingredient for cooking, and the equivalent of cash on hand.
Elisha tells her, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” This, of course, defies the laws of physics. You can’t keep filling jars with “a little oil.” But the God who crafted the Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy is not thwarted by the need for a miraculous event.
The widow keeps pouring oil. With no jars left, at that moment the oil stops flowing. Elisha tells her, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” (II Kings 4:7)
What can we take away from this story? Our response hinges on what Elisha says to the widow: If you’re trusting God to fill some empty places in your life, don’t settle for just a few. If you give God a few empty spaces in your life, he’ll fill a few. If you give God the chance to fill place after place after place in your life, he will fill them all.
How much space have you left for God to work? If we fill our calendars with busyness, if we cram our minds with our own plans and ideas, if we rush to fill every vacuum of “down time” with distractions, and if we vow to control every detail of every day, we will never leave an empty jar for God.
Leave a place for God to show up this week. See if He doesn’t provide the supernatural gift of life-sustaining oil.