Just a Flask of Oil

There are many expressions in life that tell a story. When I was a child my grandmother had an expression to fit every occasion. I had no idea where she got them from; sometimes they were quotes from the Bible; other times they were sayings that people generated from life experiences. Let me tell you, she had a collection and always managed to shut your mouth with her well timed wise comment.

I was unaware that I repeated these golden nuggets to my children. One day I was at a function with one of my sons and we were looking at a couple’s game.  The moderator asked the men, “What is something your wife says?” My son whispered to me, I can answer that question. For you it’s, “Am I speaking Greek?” I looked at him and was quite surprised. That was something my grandmother would say when she spoke to you and there was either no reaction or an inappropriate reaction. I never realized I used that line. Sure enough, a few days later when the response was inappropriate, the words came flying out of my mouth.

My grandfather was a shoemaker. When I knew him, he worked for the electric company. He had all the tools for shoemaking but never used them. After a while, we played with the equipment. So the saying for this issue is that the shoemaker’s children had the worst shoes. I believe that was before shoes were so easily available at the shoe store.

Trade’s men become so busy being responsible and committed to their craft that their families usually don’t benefit from their work. So when shoes were custom made, the shoemaker spent time on the orders with paying customers and only focused on his children if he had time.  There is a man in the Bible, who had a similar problem. He was a man who worked in ministry. He was so dedicated to the service of the Lord that he didn’t take the time to set his house in order and make provision for his family.

One day this man died, the widow found herself in an impossible situation. You see, the husband took care of the finances and she took care of the children and the home. She was unaware that they were one step away from disaster. When he died, his ability to earn money died with him and now they were in default. Creditors have been the same since time began; they have no compassion. They decided to take her sons and sell them to pay her debt.

Well, she was in a predicament. In the absence of her husband, she needed her sons to take care of her. When the creditors take her sons, she would be homeless. She decided to go and visit the man of God where her husband served. 2 Kings 4:1 says, “One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.”

She went to Elisha because he knew first hand of her husband’s commitment to the service of the Lord. When she spoke to him, she reminded him about her husband’s faithfulness. Elisha didn’t dismiss the woman and tell her that he was not responsible for her husband’s lack of provision. He was a man of honor and he asked her what she had. She replied that all she had was a flask of olive oil.

He told her to go to her neighbors and borrow as many empty jars as she can. Then go into house and pour the oil into the empty jars. She did what he told her to do. As long as there were empty jars, the oil flowed. When they were no more jars to fill, the flow stopped. She went back to Elisha and he told her to sell the oil. With the proceeds from her sale, she had enough money to pay her creditors and she and her sons lived on what was left over.

Sometimes, life can be rough. When you live in a male dominated society and you lose your husband, your sons and you have no money, life would be difficult. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, she went to the prophet to look for help. He brought a miracle into her life.

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