How many jars do you have?

As a child I believed that one day I would have a dolphin as a friend. In that world between fantasy and wide eyed wonder at all that was possible in the world, I swam with the dolphin. No adult I told about it took much notice and every December as I shouted up the chimney reminding Father Christmas about my dolphin, they all thought I was cute and ‘what a vivid imagination she has!’.

I remember my brother, around four years of age at the time, zooming his toy cars across the carpet whilst coming out with statements about what God was going to do in our family. I recall him asking God for things and they would happen. For him there wasn’t a separation between God’s sphere and his own.

Recently God has been challenging me in many different ways about what I expect of him. Do I still expect him to do the things he spoke about last year? if he hasn’t done them in 5 years time, will I still expect him to? As I wait for him to act amongst my colleagues, in our teams across the globe, in my family, in my life, what does my waiting look like? Am I wearily dragging my hopes in the dust, looking at the dirt in front of me? Or are they in my pocket where my hand can find them at any moment as I look up and trace out the way ahead?

Just this morning at church someone shared about the prophet’s widow in 2Kings4. The creditors were after her and about to take her sons into slavery so she went to Elisha for help. All she had at home was half a jar of oil, so Elisha told her to go and find as many jars as she could from her friends and neighbours. She didn’t know what he was going to do. If I was her, I wonder how much effort I would have put into gathering jars? In the end with the half jar she fills every single jar they had managed to gather, and the indication is that had they had more jars those would have been filled too. She then was able to sell the oil and not only pay off her creditors but also support her household too.

I have a growing sense that God is ready to do some things, possibly sooner rather than later, but he wants to work with me, with us, rather than independently. Its as if he has an unlimited supply of oil, but it’s up to us whether we bring small jars or great barrels …. whether we bring 5, 500 or 50,000 of them. Whether the oil comes this week, next year or in ten years time I want to have as many containers as I can lay my hands on and for them to be clean and ready to take the oil.

I keep remembering the conversation between King Nebuchadnezzar and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, in effect  ‘our God is able to save us…. but even if he doesn’t, he is still our God and we will bow to no other.’ . Our hope is in God and our expectation is that he will act… his action may be to help us a certain way, but it may not be, however… we are ready, waiting and watching to see what he does so that we can get in step.

Victor Frankl observed that if we hope in finite things like our health, work, life or general circumstances, we will eventually despair because all these things end; but if our hope is in something infinite like God himself, our hope will be a living one in the midst of any circumstance. God is about to do something new, I want to be ready.


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