in accordance with the Word of the Lord... part 3

reflections on 1 Kings 17:10-16

to start at the beginning of the series, you can go here.
for 1 Kings 17 online, here.

So Elijah hoofs it to Zarephath, and lo and behold, there's a widow at the town gate gathering firewood. (I suppose he knew she was a widow by what she was wearing, but still I wonder if God didn't whisper something to the effect of, pssst. Elijah, that's her....) So he asks her for a glass of water, and some bread.

I wonder if she knew he was a prophet. Or if she was just being nice because he looked so tired and hot and obviously in need of a glass of water. And I wonder what she thought when he asked for some bread...

What she says is interesting:

"As surely as the Lord your God lives..."
(v.12) As surely as the Lord your God lives.... as in, not my God? How does she know? Well, it's just a guess, but as he's Elijah the Tishbite from Gilead, and she's the widow of Zarepath in Sidon (which is not in Israel)... he's in a foreign country.

Wait a minute - God sent him out of Israel? Well. At least Ahab can't catch him, then. But why would God do that?

Well, it turns out He has something to say.

"Don't be afraid," Elijah tells her (v. 13). Was she? Maybe. Probably not of him, but maybe of his God. I wonder what the gods of Sidon were like? Maybe they were the sorts of gods who would take the last of what you had and let you die... What she's said to Elijah then makes sense - please don't take the end of our food, it's all we've got, and we're going to die anyway. (This is, by the way, where I remind you I'm sitting at my kitchen table, speculating and interacting with God's Word, and that I'm not in a seminary library researching the text properly. Don't take any of this as if it's authoritative, please!)

Elijah tells her not to be afraid, and that the God of Israel promises that if she'll take the risk and make him some bread, "The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land."

sidenote - it's not raining in Sidon either...

So she goes home and bakes the bread. She brings it to him, and goes home. And there's flour and oil again where there wasn't any. She gives him everything she has left. And God gives it back to her. Every day. For a long time.

It reminds me of the story of the widow Jesus saw in the temple once, who put two coins in the offering, and it didn't look like much to anyone else, but He knew it was all she had. I wonder what the rest of her day was like. And what she thought as she put it in...

This is necessarily vague, but the long and the short of it is that I'm in yet another season of surrender. Right now I feel as though a part of my heart is about to shatter. But God never breaks anything He can't mend, and I guess - no, I know - He knows what He's doing. I just wish I did...

But I, like the widow, will hold nothing back. If He wants the last of my flour and oil, He can take it. And I will trust Him (Psalm 77 again) to give back what I need, remembering the deeds of the Lord, and how He has always been faithful. He's a good Daddy - and just like any parent, sometimes says, "No" to things I really want because it's better. And I don't need to know why for it to be true.

I really do want to know why. I want to know why something that has brought so much joy and gladness and wealth in the truest sense of the word - something that really did feel like a gift from God - is something He wants back. And I really do want to know why it doesn't seem like I can have even one week lately where I'm not completely broken about something... you guys have walked it with me, in vague detail; you've seen it - but I did say I wanted to be like Jesus, and I guess there's an awful lot in me that isn't like Him at all that God just needs to root out, and this is probably part of that. It doesn't look much like blessing at all to me right now - any more than it probably looked like blessing to the widow to be given the opportunity to give up the last of what she believed she truly needed to survive - but it worked out alright for her, and my God is a good God.

So here we go, I guess...

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