Collecting Jars: A Mother’s Obedience
May 08, 2016 03:23AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
It’s Mother’s Day once again, and after going through every card in the store, my son settled on making one for us to send. The occasion can be an amazing day or a painful day for so many for a variety of reasons: recent loss, unfulfilled motherhood, a difficult mother relationship, abandonment, etc.
I’m not the gushy Mother’s Day type. I consider it the highest privilege and best job I’ve ever had, but we avoid the crowds and keep it low-key in our house. It’s sandwiched between my husband’s birthday and our wedding anniversary every year. There is plenty to celebrate in the month of May. We all simply want to be together. We don’t live near any of our family, so it has become a day just to ourselves.
As I was preparing to write on the topic, I wanted to focus on an often overlooked mother in the Old Testament. She has much to teach us, and yet, her name wasn’t even included in the account. She is simply “the wife of one of the sons of the prophets.”
Ever feel like a description like that one? (Well, maybe not the prophet part!)
2 Kings 4:1-7, ESV, Anonymous author, possibly Jeremiah the Prophet
Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves."
And Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?" And she said, "Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil."
Then he said, "Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few.
Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside."
So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her.
When the vessels were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." And he said to her, "There is not another." Then the oil stopped flowing.
She came and told the man of God, and he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest."
First, let’s take a look at her situation. Her husband had died, so her financial security had changed as well as her status. She was now a widow.
Her sons were about to be taken as slaves to cover a debt she could not pay.
As parents, could we face much worse than losing our children—either in death or in life? Isn't it our worst fear?
I find it so empowering that she didn’t sit at home and allow unfortunate circumstances to take their course.
She had no status as a widow, and yet, she intervened. She approached the prophet Elisha and pleaded for her children. Moreover, she reminded Elisha of her husband’s faith.
This woman was absolutely serious and determined.
When Elisha asked her of her possessions, all she had was one jar of oil.
Can you imagine offering up a jar of oil to a prophet of God to work out a solution?
I can. I think offering up everything of ourselves is at the heart of most mothers—certainly not all, but most.
It doesn't end there. Elisha sent her on an errand, and from a mother’s desperate heart, she performed the seemingly bizarre task:
“Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few.”
Can you imagine our thoughts in a similar scenario?
Um, what now? I have one jar of oil, and you want me to ask my neighbors for their vessels? Did I hear that correctly? You want me to find many vessels to fill?
And while we’re talking about filling jars, what do you mean set each aside as it’s filled and keep pouring?
Do you know what I love about this account? The sons were with her and participated in the miracle. She was to shut the door from everyone else, but together, they all watched one jar of oil grow into many.
The other part that strikes me is they did not “work the miracle” and milk it for more. They didn’t head out and beg neighbors for more jars. When the last vessel was topped off, the miracle was over. They accepted it. That was that.
This widow came for a rescue, but the man of God offered her so much more. She was able to keep her sons and live off the rest of the oil. Her faith and obedience didn’t just bring about a quick bandage over a problem. They covered her family for the future.
What an incredible act of faith and trust to simply collect jars!
Okay, now. What about you?
Where do you need to “collect jars” on behalf of your families/loved ones?
What miracle are you waiting for yourself or others?
- Wanting a family? A spouse?
- Seeking financial provision?
- Needing direction on educating your children?
- Dealing with brokenness in relationships or yourself?
- Struggling with health issues?
Did you know that whatever is empty in your particular jar can be filled in Christ?
I do not know which answers He will offer you. I just know that He hears and answers when we call to Him.
God’s phone number:
Jeremiah 33:3, ESV, Jeremiah the Prophet speaking the words of the Lord
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”
I can’t imagine the widow thought her help would come from empty jars. That must have felt like such a trivial task.
But she did it.
We can follow her lead and ask God boldly, as she asked the man of God.
We must then be prepared to receive the answer however it comes.
There is often space between the asking and the answer, and we’re impatient and tempted to get sidetracked or doubt the direction we are going in, feeling like we’re just treading water.
When God's answer comes in, you will know it, because it will be accompanied with His peace. The more you get to know Him, I promise you the better you will recognize His signature on your life—
—one empty jar filled at a time.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.