Yesterday, I was revisiting the idea of story mapping with my youngest as she was working on an assignment for writing.
** Side note: For those of you with elementary-aged kids and are looking for a tool to encourage them to write without complaining, check out Karen Andreaola’s Story Starters. In all of her short stories, you are given the characters, setting, and conflict, and then it is up to your child to finish writing it, starting at the plot and moving to the climax, resolution, and themes. Sometimes I write my own ending while they are writing theirs and when we’ve finished, we read them aloud. It is always interesting to see how very different the stories turn out and the laughter created serves as an excellent reminder that writing can be enjoyable, creative, and freeing.
Okay, back to this blog post. I am going to use a story map to bring you back to another “Wait. . what?” story in Scripture.
Here we go:
The Characters in this story are (1) a widowed wife of one of Elisha’s students (who has recently died), (2) her two sons (they must have been young otherwise they would have stepped in and fulfilled the duties of the man of the house), and (3) Elisha, a prophet/servant of God.
The Setting: It is unclear where the wife finds Elisha, but she is certainly having a conversation with him and has sought him out, specifically, with a crisis that is threatening to take her sons away from her as a form of payment.
The Conflict: This widowed woman is overcome with fear. She and her now deceased husband owe money. With a creditor who is determined to get what he is due and with the woman’s lack of income, the only option the creditor sees is to take her two boys as his slaves.
The Plot: Thoughts like these are probably racing through the widow’s mind:
“What am I going to do?”
“I need some time to figure this out. . . . ”
“All I own that is of any value is one jar of oil. One.”
“No. Not my sons. A life of slavery is not what I want for them. There must be another way.”
The Climax: She goes and finds Elisha, her husband’s teacher. Elisha is a prophet, a true prophet, who God uses to speak through and work through. He might have a solution, she hoped. And he did (2 Kings 2-4, ESV):
Widow: “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.”
Elisha: “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 left Elisha’s presence and went and collected empty containers from all of her neighbors. It must have been strange for her– often, we ask our neighbors for a cup of flour or sugar; maybe an egg or two if we are in the process of baking something and find that we are out of a key ingredient, however, an empty container might feel weird to ask for. And the neighbors answering their doors– “What a strange request,” they might think.
Nevertheless, she trusted what Elisha had recommended she do and followed it, collecting as many empty vessels from neighbors as she could.
The Resolution: Her and her young sons go inside their home and shut the door, and she begins pouring oil from the only jar they have into all of the vessels they have collected which varied in size, I imagine. The containers are brought to her and when one is full, it gets set aside and another is brought. What seemed to be a bottomless jar continued flowing with oil until the last vessel was filled.
And then the oil stopped flowing.
Wait. . . what? One jar filled every vessel they collected?
I wonder what she was thinking before she began pouring. Here they were, in their home, with a small hope that what Elisha recommended they do may be a game-changer. He had been a part of some pretty remarkable episodes in the past. She must have heard the story about the axe head that came floating up to the surface of the water. Perhaps her husband was one of the main characters in that story. Who knows. Either way, he would have been there to see it happen and would have told her about it. That is not something you see happen every day. This Elisha was truly a man God who was used to (1) speak the miracles that God would perform or (2) do the absurd things God had told him to do right before the miracle took place.
However, even knowing this, the widow must have had apprehension. It seemed impossible to her, I imagine, as she stood looking at all the collected containers that her measily one jar of oil could fill even one vessel. She could clearly see the obvious.
“This is all I’ve got,” she must have thought. “But, I am going to trust. I am going to step out and begin pouring, even thought I don’t understand. Even though my hands are shaking. Even though this is the only thing I own of any value. I am going to pour it out. I am going to believe. Here we go.”
And, to their amazement, oil kept coming out of the jar, filling every last container that had been collected.
“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.” (2 Kings 4:7, ESV).
I believe she went to Elisha, running with tears streaming down her face. A miracle had just happened and it had set her free from her worst fears: slavery and bondage for her sons. A way had been made for her and her sons. Her debt was now able to be paid. All because she trusted that God would multiply the very little that she had. She had been willing to literally pour out her hope, choosing to trust God more.
Mustard Seed Girls!
We serve a God who multiplies.
We serve a God who provides.
We serve a God who desires for us to trust Him when the stakes are highest in our lives.
We serve a God who will blow our minds if we will simply trust, believe, and step forward in faith even when it makes no sense.
Let God blow your mind! What is your oil? Would you pour it out before Him and trust Him with the result? He has the ability to do the impossible! He has the ability to multiply and to make a way when there seems to be no way. But we’ll never know until we step out in faith.
I will be praying that God would move in your hearts after pondering this post, letting truth from Scripture settle into your deepest places. We serve a God who will forever cause us to say, “Wait. . . what?”
Be in awe of Him! He does the impossible.