Thursday, November 1, 2012

God's Power Through Our Ordinary Lives

Do you ever feel like you’re out of resources? Like you don’t have enough time, enough money, enough inspiration or creativity?

Last Sunday evening after a weekend conference, I looked at the calendar and panicked.
I’d scheduled a scrap booking party at my house for women from our fellowship to invite mslm friends to the following Saturday. It was a first baby step towards my dream for our women’s group, but as I looked at the busy week ahead of me, I realized I had almost no time to organize the party and prepare a devotional talk. For me, the most stressful thing about giving a party in Turkey is hardly knowing in advance who will come, so how could I buy materials? I felt overwhelmed.

At the conference God had spoken to me through a simple Bible story about how He can fill our ordinary lives with His power. In 2 Kings 4, a widow asked Elisha for help because she was out of resources, and creditors were going to take her sons as slaves. Elisha asked, “What do you have at home?” All she had was a little oil.  Then he gave her specific instructions, “Go ask your neighbors for as many empty jars as you can. Then go inside with your sons and pour oil into all the jars.” So the widow did just as Elisha said. Amazingly the oil from her container continued pouring until all the jars were full, so she was able to sell the oil to pay her debts.

Here’s what the story means to me:

  1. When You’re out of Resources, Go to God
  2. Ask Him for Direction, and Do What He Tells You
  3. Be Faithful in the Small Things (It’s easy enough to go ask neighbors for jars.)
  4. Trust That He’ll Fill Your Ordinary Life and Service with His Power (God started with what the woman had at home: some oil and borrowed pots.)

My Ordinary “Jars”

So rather than staying panicked over our women’s outreach, I prayed, “Lord, I don’t have time to get ready for this. What can I do?”

A specific idea came to me: schedule one half hour on Monday to make a guest list, write up an invitation explaining what guests would need to bring, and write an e-mail to my team mates delegating responsibilities. I immediately felt relieved and at peace. For the rest of the week, I did small things like making phone calls, writing up a shopping list, and preparing my talk in spare moments.

The night before the party I was out shopping for supplies, and I got two calls from women who said they couldn’t come.  I felt discouraged, but I prayed, “Lord, I’ve done what I could. I’m bringing my jars to You; now You fill them with oil, with Your power.”

God’s Power and Grace

The next day was filled with graces.  I was able to clean house and prepare food without feeling stressed. My friend Claire had the joy of sharing her skills and talents with 11 women. I shared old photographs of key turning points of my life, and gave a brief talk on how God is working for our good in even in bad times.

The women were touched. They enjoyed taking time to be creative and make something beautiful. One non-believing woman took notes and copied the Bible verse I quoted. We had a great conversation over tea and food later.

God took our ordinary abilities, like scrapbooking, cooking, cleaning, and preparing a talk, and He turned them into something beautiful, just like he poured oil into the widow’s jars.

What ordinary abilities and talents do you have? How have you experienced God’s grace through them recently?

3 comments:

Aunt Michele said...

What a wonderful scriptural example! I so often feel I have no time to get ready for such events. Going to have to remember that all I can offer is what I have!

Choate Family said...

Making cookies is my ordinary ability :-) It's amazing what God does, isn't it!

OliveTree said...

God can use our skills making cookies, even! I love it. I like to bake also.