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Walk on the Wide Side?

Have you ever noticed that sometimes “the word of the Lord” doesn’t always look the way you thought it would? The timing is too long and your sword is dull. Or the timing is too short, and you’re not quite ready.

When the Lord directed us back to Asia, I had a certain picture of what that would look like. That picture didn’t include my family becoming experts on living out of our suitcases. Or sharing our temporary housing with a naughty dog named Joe for 5 1/2 weeks. After all, we were making the move for His Name’s sake. Right?

One day my Bible reading landed on a predicament that Elijah found himself in. I still can’t believe that James wrote, “Elijah was a man just like us.” -James. 5:17 When I think of this great prophet, I never think of myself and Elijah in the same sentence. Do you?

Anyway, check out this story. Elijah declared a judgment of drought on Ahab’s idolatry. Afterwards, God told Elijah to head toward a certain river and hide out there. The Lord had inspired some ravens to feed him, and the river was the perfect “watering hole.” After 3 years of this, with the drought raging on, the brook dried up. So the word of the Lord came and gave Elijah new direction, “Arise, go to Zarephath….stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 1 Kings 17:9

So, Elijah took God up on His word and headed towards Zarephath. Imagine this. Would it be easier to receive food from a raven or from a widow during a famine?

As soon as Elijah reached Zarephath, there was the widow just as God had said. Elijah was thirsty, and a little hungry too. So, he stepped out on God’s word and asked, “Please get me a little water…and bring me a piece of bread in your hand.”

Okay, remember, God said that He had commanded the widow. (Which is almost the same instruction Elijah got 3 years earlier when God had commanded the ravens.)

When Elijah asked for the bread and water, the widow informed him, “As the Lord lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar.” She finished up the bad news by informing the prophet that she was cooking the last bit of food and climbing in a hole to die. What a picture.

But Elijah made no apologies. He had the word of the Lord. And even though the picture looked bleak, He held the key that could override the whole scene.

What would you do? It would be tempting to rethink and look for another widow. Or to offer a humble apology for ever bothering the poor thing.  Or to locate another city that started with a, “Z”. There’s lots of options the heart and mind manufactures when the picture doesn’t look the way we thought it would.

But Elijah doesn’t do any of these things. He steps forward and says, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said… but make me a little bread cake first and bring it to me…” Anyway you have to admire Elijah for being the “invited yet uninvited” dinner guest.

Then the Holy Spirit came upon Elijah and he prophesied, “The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until…the Lord sends rain…”

What an amazing story. There are many lessons tucked away here. Like the power of tithing; of hospitality; of perseverance; of unmet expectations; and faith that defies the odds.

I just want to say one thing about faith. Elijah moved in faith and the widow moved in faith, and God moved in the supernatural. (read the whole story 1 Kings 17:8-16) If you need a miracle, then step out in faith. Even if the picture has been different than you thought it would be, “Do not fear!” apply your faith, move forward now, because there’s something very attractive to God about faith.

Stop pouting. Stop stalling. Stop rethinking. Step out.

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

Kathleen Dillard

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