“What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. 2 Kings 4:1 (NLT)
The woman in this story is in desperate need. In the midst of grieving the loss of her husband who has just died, she is confronted by a creditor who is now threatening to take her two sons away from her as well and turn them into slaves as payment for a debt she cannot pay. Her husband had been a God fearing man and member of Elisha’s company of the prophets and so she comes crying to Elisha for help.
Note Elisha’s response to her. He begins by asking her to take stock of what she has rather than bemoan what she doesn’t have. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?”
There is a very important principle of faith that Elisha is tapping into here and we see it at work throughout both the Old and the New Testament. The principle is this: before God meets a need, He always requires someone to sow a seed. Desperate needs are seedbeds for miracles and Elisha knows that the place this woman must begin is by looking for a seed that she can sow.
She admits that she has a flask of oil, but in her estimation it is “nothing at all.” But to Elisha, and most importantly to God it is that requisite seed, no matter how small, that can be used to prime the pump for her miracle. Sowing a seed in faith is like priming an old hand water pump. A little bit of water is needed to pour into the pump to create the suction necessary to begin drawing out an endless stream of water. In God’s hands, a little bit can produce a lot.
Elisha instructs her and her sons to go to all her neighbors and gather as many empty containers as they can. Then she is told to begin pouring the oil from that little flask into the containers. One by one, her sons set a filled container aside and slip another empty one in as the oil continues to flow. Miraculously the oil does not stop until every single container is full. Then Elisha tells her “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” (vs. 7)
Now we are no different than this woman when we are facing insurmountable needs in our lives. We feel like whatever we may have is “nothing” in comparison to that great big “something” that we need. But God would ask us, just like Elisha asked the widow, “what do you have in your possession that you can sow?”
Although God created the heavens and earth out of nothing, everything else He has chosen to do since then is by starting and creating something from seed form. He formed Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from Adam’s rib. When Moses was complaining that he did not have what it takes to be a leader, God asked him “What is that in your hand?” And that staff, in the hand of Moses, proved to be all the leadership seed he needed to confront Pharaoh, lead the children ofIsrael out ofEgypt and part theRed Sea.
The first miracle that Jesus performed was at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. When He was informed by his Mother that they were out of wine, the first thing Jesus did was to look around the room for some seed to sow. He spotted six stone water jars, had them filled with water and instantly turned them into the equivalent of 750 bottles of the finest wine this side of the NapaValley. Later in His ministry Jesus put this same seed sowing principle into practice by feeding groups of three and five thousand people simply by taking the few loaves and fish available and multiplied them as they were given away.
A seed is very simply anything that we possess that is a resource that God can use. As we have seen it can be a jar of oil, jars of water or simply bread and fish. The main thing is to take that seed and make it available to Jesus. As with any seed, it is the act of sowing it by faith that releases God’s multiplication power.
A man once shared a dream he had with me. In the dream he saw two men who wanted to have a tree in their yard. One man went to the spot where he wanted the tree, dug a hole and begun to pray that God would fill it with a tree. The other man went to the spot in his yard where he wanted a tree, dug a hole and planted a seed. Then he began to pray that God would give him a tree. When the man woke up from his dream, the Lord asked him. “Which man has the most faith?” He pondered the question for some time and then answered. “I’m not sure, which one?” And the Lord replied, “The man who planted the seed.”
Many times we want God to work on our behalf and answer our prayers but fail to realize that we are not giving Him any seeds of faith to work with. All the time He may be asking us “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” Beware, it may seem like “nothing at all” to you, but it just might be the very thing God wants you to begin to pour out to prime the pump for your miracle.
Do you have any thoughts on this?
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