Thursday, September 13, 2012

Elijah Speaks to Me; Thankful Thursday

I have occasion to preach to myself today over something God requires concerning our neighbors. I thought you might glean something as maybe come along for the ride?

Elijah and the woman with the oil and flour; 1 Kings 17:7-16
On the way to AWANA I pray for him. And the issues, they're so complicated I don't know where to begin.

I've written of the family before. There are four children ranging in age from 4 to 12 and during the summer they were all babysat by the12-year-old sister.

Recently their van broke down, leaving one economy car for six people and Mom and Dad work in opposite sides of town. Their funds can't cover repairs right now and in our rural area there are no buses. Suddenly, one parent is out of work and possibly both and the mother is sick and had to spend one night in the hospital. It's hard to know the details without being nosy. I ask very little and wait for God to reveal the needs.

The tax levy for the local school district, it didn't pass and no school bus runs through the neighborhood this year. How do you work a job or two on one car, and manage the pick-up and drop-off times for three different schools?

I could get on a soapbox about the well over $9000 a year this district spends per student and how could they have no money for buses? And why are all the school buildings new, when bus money was in jeopardy?

And so I pray for Aidan who shares the back seat of our van. He asks us to keep his AWANA materials at our house because at his house they would get lost or the "babies" (his 4- and 5-year-old siblings) would ruin them. And I think about all the families who are so stressed by their poverty, they can't maintain a modicum of organization. Could there really be no place at all to put important papers and does homework ever get done in that house and why are the kids sick (or truant) so often?

And why should I even ask that, when gas money itself is an obstacle? An important bit of information, this, straight out of Aidan's mouth.

And I wonder if I should give them a ten dollar bill for gas money? And should I offer to take the kindergartner and fourth grader to the elementary school every day, even though by 8:25 I rarely have my shower and breakfast is only in the works, not consumed, by then?

Our own van at over 230,000 miles could stop at any moment...and our 25-year-old car, it could as well. And gas money isn't plentiful here either. If we only had more to give! The less I have, the more I see physical need all around me.

Before, I just didn't see.

As I wonder if I should pay for Aidan's AWANA book when our own AWANA books are stretching us, and should I hand over gas money--all the while wondering if it might be used for cigarettes, do you know the story the Holy Spirit puts in my head just then? The woman with the little bit of flour and oil.

1 Kings 17:7-24
Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

Scripture seems to say, yes, I should give gas money and offer rides and buy an AWANA book, not concerning myself with whether I have enough for my family. What does obedience and charity require, when you don't live in abundance yourself? 

Just this: Faith

And what is faith, exactly? Have I not seen what God does to provide? Have we not been helped ourselves just in the nick of time? Have we not experienced the despair and hopelessness poverty brings? Do we not understand the layers and layers of issues complicating that all encompassing word:  poverty

The good news is that God doesn't squeeze faith out of dry raisins. He builds our faith, plumping us up with provision and sustenance, grace and love. 

This I have learned: Everything he requires from us, he puts into us. He only asks that we let it flow out generously, as he let it flow in. 

And don't ask questions. Did the woman ask Elijah questions?  No. "She went away and did as Elijah told her."

What is God asking you to give today? If you see a need around you--and you will if you look--remember this: We're not parched as raisins. He has filled us and if we abide in Him, he'll fill us some more.

For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

Feeling thankful on Thursday.

Dear Lord, thank you for these gifts:

~ I know where the AWANA books are in this house and we open them and our Bibles, and we value scripture...all by His grace alone is this true. 

~ Beautiful fall days with sunny skies.

~ For the first time ever, we invited someone to church and they said yes!

~ When Mary woke up from a dream...thinking there were ants all over her bed, I was able to comfort her. What a privilege to love.

~ His kisses and hard work.

~ Hearing 13 preschoolers whisper it at AWANA Cubbies: "God loved us and sent His Son."

~ Zinnias still blooming beauty

~ The eyes to see.

~ Having just enough. That's more blessing than any of us realize.

~ Prayer

~ Stories that teach

~ Reading Sid Fleischman's Gold Rush adventure alongside the boys: By the Great Horn Spoon

By the Great Horn Spoon!


Tesha said...

I have felt that tug also. Just last night we were in a baby loss support group and there was a couple that had just lost there baby two weeks ago. All i could think was I wish I had some money to give them. I know how hard it was to cook in those first weeks and her husband had probably been off work. How many times I felt that tug to give but have not, i wonder what blessings I have missed by not listing to the holy spirit. On the same not different tune I have also said yes to things like you are talking about i picked up two kids from school for a year, it was exhausting and I ended up feeling taken advantage of. There is a fine line and I would say the most needed thing is to hear the voice of the Lord. Love your thankful list I really need to start doing one once a week also although I thin you do it twice a week. As always you inspire me!

Christine said...

It's such a blessing to your church and church area that you are offering the Grief Share. I know a few people who have been so blessed by that program.

Compassion International taught me that when helping someone, don't give at expected intervals and don't do something for them that they can do themselves. I think this is a good standard to help and be a blessing, without encouraging dependence.

Praying for you as you grieve your precious Jonathan. I know leading that program will help you a great deal, but it will also bring forward those desperately sad thoughts. At least in the group there will be no judgement--no one saying you should be over this by now. Six months is still very fresh grief!