8Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9“Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” 11As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” 13Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” 15She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
She has so very little to begin with, it seems almost insane that Elijah would ask for a piece of bread first. "First, feed me and then you'll see that the oil and flour will not run out." First feed me. Really?
One of the first rules of taking care of others is making sure to take care of yourself. We're reminded each flight, "take care to put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting other passengers." And this widow is the one assigned to help Elijah. God says to Elijah, "I have commanded a widow to feed you."
The relationship that Elijah is forging with this woman is complicated from the start. She was commanded to feed Elijah and yet her first words in response to his request sought to explain why she could do no such thing. So, either she didn't get the memo from God or she didn't understand the economics of the request.
Elijah is to be fed by her; Elijah must explain how it will work.
First give me something to eat. Yes, first give me what you perceive to be the last that you have. And then go back and you will find it is not the last that you have. In fact, you will find that as long as we engage in this exchange, as long as it takes for God to send rain, the oil and the flour will not run out.
Now, go ahead and make me something to eat.
What is needed of her to engage in this exchange? How does she summon the courage? Is it courage? Is it trust? After it works the first time, after the first success, does she ever doubt that the miracle will continue? Does she have to summon the courage or faith or whatever this is - each day? How does she engage in emptying what she has every day?
Every day. One day at a time. Just for one more day. I can trust today. I don't know about tomorrow. But I can trust today. I can empty what I have today.
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