The time I took off from this space last week, I believe, was well deserved. Currently, my work life has many angles I am urgently trying to fill. But I also know that creating these reflections soothes my sometimes, weary soul. So here I am today, to not only enhance my being but also to share some glimpses of God’s thorough love of me and His love for you.
Recently joy has come before me; joy, as a subtle pleasure that won’t let up even on those days I want to throw in the towel when dealing with specific circumstances. When the towel is imaginarily thrown, I think then that I can rest just a little bit more. I can catch up on crafts, start others, clean the home without grumbling to myself—consistent cleaning gets old sometimes, right? However, in my case, it must be frequently done since I get a little uneasy at the sight of accumulated dust, elements of winter on wooden floors, snow, and ice from car tires on the garage floor, and all the extra responsibilities this current season brings. If I am not careful, all this can seem such a major bother. But I am conscious not to mentally stay in this frame of thought.
In speaking with my daughter last week, I shared with her that of the present; I don’t believe I’ll focus on a large garden this year. I’d rather grow small plants at the farm instead. Of course, this is my thought every year, until I visit the garden centers to view all the beauties available in the growing season. However, I am sticking to this decision this year and may focus on only growing herbs in the home garden. My thought is with the time I’ll gain; I can concentrate on increasing my consultancy and picking up more teaching positions in the hopes of moving out to the country sooner rather than later. God knows my heart. He sure does!
He knows my silly thoughts, as well as those serious ones. He understands that this joy I feel comes from the hope and the gifts of the gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which I view as the entrance to my Christian path leading to eternal life. Yet, I know that the gospel must solidify my progressive sanctification (MacArthur, 2020) as one fruit of His gospel. It’s not enough to say I am converted. I can’t stop there. Yes, it is known that every person who accepts Christ converts; yet the work of change must begin at this acceptance. No one can make these changes for any of us. Growing in the many stages of the true Christian faith, is at a different level of transformation. Though there are times we slide, recommitment is always available to us. This process is a significant part of our Christian history.
Paul speaks of us as debtors to those who do not know the gospel (Romans 1:14-16). In the widow’s oil (2 Kings 4:1-7), we read of one aspect of Elisha’s ministry, which breathes remarkable holiness filled with gracious deeds. The story of the widow’s oil shows God’s supernatural mercy displayed through His appointed prophet. The widow faced dire circumstances because she could not pay off a debt. Things were so extreme that her two sons would have to be placed in servitude to the debt holder until the Year of Jubilee. Because during this time Elisha was the leader of the prophetic guild, the woman approached the prophet for help. Because of her godliness, God stepped in through Elisha, who requested that the woman and her sons locate “not a few” empty vessels they could find. These many empty vessels came from neighbors.
When the family collected all the vessels, Elisha asked them to step inside to witness an act of faith. When the woman and her sons were away from publicity, she poured her meager pot of oil into the vessels. She poured into them one by one and immediately filled every vessel with the little bit of oil she had. We see an illustration of similar patterns in John 4:14 and John 7:37-39. The flow of oil only stopped when every borrowed vessel was full. With this, the woman sold the oil and was able to pay off the creditor.
A remarkable miracle. And, if we look closely at its meaning, the oil is a type of His, Holy Spirit, who continues to pour into us. Just like the pot of meager oil the woman had, which filled empty vessels! A consistent grace our open hearts should willingly receive (Psalm 81:10; Ephesians, 3:20).
Some who read the above discussion may think only of provisions, as God to be the ultimate vending machine. In observance, I know of others who can really, only go there, for this is all they have been taught. It is all that is known. But I contend that this story of the Widow’s Oil is so much more than that. It is sweet story about allowing God’s Spirit to work in us. He will never fail us, and He is always there to fill and refill our souls. The fruits He provide are sufficient. These fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Paul continues to tell us, against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
In awareness, we know Spirit is in us. In our own self perseverance, He provides outside of His fruits, while always advocating for us. However, like God, He provides in His own time to each of us who was made strategically and biologically different. His presence is always near to those who know the gospel. We must always strive to become His fruits. With these in us, everything else may just fall into place with no pressure, and with no force.
Together, we grow in God’s words,
MacArthur, J. (2020). Winning the battle against sin. P1. Retrieved from https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/81-66