A Little Oil For An Empty Jar

You never know when you’ll run into a new person–someone you really like.  Debbie Gillingham is someone I met on my trip to London and someone I found charming right away.  Debbie is a believer on a mission in London to reach the lost and make Jesus famous–you know, pretty much what every believer is called to!  Debbie is an amazing worship leader.  You should check out her music and her website here.  I’m thrilled to introduce you to Debbie and give you a glimpse into her heart.


The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.  Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”–2 Kings 4:1-7

I have read this story a number of times, I’ve made notes and highlighted but I never quite got it until I was able to relate to the widow.

Now, I have never, and am likely never to, experience such abject poverty, where my only worldly possession or anything I own of value are a tiny amount of oil (such an insignificant amount that she initially even forgot she had it). Prior to this affliction, the widow probably led a comfortable life. She was married to a man who was one of the prophets.

Picture her living in a quiet suburb with roses in the garden and white picket fence. She is well respected (albeit because of who she is married to) and doesn’t really want for much. Yet, now she was in so much debt, it would cost her the freedom her of sons to reconcile. Picture the white paint chipping off the fence, the garden becoming ever more overgrown, her neighbours gossiping about the state of the house, the garden, her–in abject poverty in a middle class neighbourhood.

Despite my inability to relate to the widow in the physical, my heart can completely relates to her spiritually. This women had lost the love of her life and with him, her security, her hope, her future. Although I have never had to experience the agony of bereavement. I, too, have felt like I lost my security, hope and future.

[Tweet “I, too, have felt like I lost my security, hope and future.–@dgdazzle”]

In her desperation she runs to Elisha for help–a man clearly in close relationship with God.  She is essentially running to God, Himself, for answers. I don’t think for a second that God answered her prayers in the way she wanted or was expecting. In her situation, I would pray for financial provision, expecting someone to slide an envelope full of 20’s under my door.  I would look for answers which required little of me other than approaching God in the first place.  But God had other plans…

[Tweet “I would look for answers which required little of me other than approaching God in the first place.–@dgdazzle”]

She would need to exercise her faith, she would need to operate on little information or understanding as to how collecting 100’s of jars and pouring a tiny amount of oil into them would clear her debt. She has to swallow her pride. A women, respected and wealthy now begging her neighbours for empty jars with no real explanation as to why she needed them! She wasn’t just going to the neighbors to borrow a jar, she needed all they had in the house. I can only imagine the gossip. The widow had to put any embarrassment aside, swallow any ounce of pride in order to be obedient to what was asked of her.

[Tweet “A women, respected and wealthy now begging her neighbors for empty jars…”]

The widow must have focused her eyes on the heavens, overcoming her own anxieties and collected what she could, or dared to. She, with the help of her sons, poured the tiny amount of oil she had into the jars, one by one, filling up every jar. The little oil she had poured endlessly….until….she ran out of jars. The amount of empty vessels she would have would limit the amount of blessing she received.

The bible says

‘… if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.’ (Timothy 2:21).

We are the vessel for God to work through.

God cannot pour oil into a jar that is already full of honey. He needs an empty vessel. We need to empty ourselves, like the women, forgetting embarrassment, pride and status in order for God to pour abundantly into us. We need faith to keep this cycle continuing. Its not just about getting rid of the stuff that would hinder our walk with God.  We cannot just hoard God’s blessing, we must use it, and be poured out for ‘honourable use’.

If we continue this cycle of collecting, filling and outpouring, we ensure that we are receiving the full blessing He has for us, getting rid of the rubbish that hinders us and being a blessing to others also.

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