"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

6/17/13

Giving First

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." Malachi 3:10 

She was in a drought-infested land and had nothing left. This isn't an exaggeration. The only thing that remained to her name was a handful of flour, a bit of oil, and her son. She was out gathering sticks to make a fire. To cook the last meal for her and her precious boy. And then to die together.

As she bends her weak, ematiated body, picking up the sticks, a foreigner approaches her - a man she has likely never seen before. And he asks her for a glass of water and a piece of bread.

Did she laugh? I probably would have. There they stood, in the middle of a drought. I'm sure she looked weak. She was at the city gate gathering sticks - not conducting business. And he asked for something to eat.

She explained her situation to him: that she and her son were on their way to die. That they had nothing to spare - they didn't even have enough for themselves.
Courtesy of Christiansunite

He retorted that, if she did as he asked, she would have more - much more - than she could even imagine.
Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your so.For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” 1 Kings 17:13-14
And she obeyed. And God - the God she didn't worship or even acknowledge before this time - kept His promise. She never ran out of flour or oil. Never.

She gave her firstfruits to the prophet of her enemy's God (no - the widow of Zarephath was NOT a Jew - she was a Sidonian, in modern-day Lebanon. The hometown of Jezebel, just FYI). She deprived herself - and her precious only son - of what she knew would be their last meal and gave it to the man who had told of the drought in the first place (1 Kings 17:1). Many I imagine thought he had somehow caused it. But she gave to him first - and she was rewarded with more than one last meal. She received provision, blessing, faith, and even the resurrection of her son. (1 Kings 17:17-24)

She could have said no. Few would have blamed her. She and her son would have had their last meal and died together, she certain she had done all she could for her precious child. But she didn't. She gave to a stranger first - and her blessing was beyond anything she could imagine.

Do you give first, or after you take care of your own needs? What might you have missed?

We're discussing this here, and at Living by Grace on Facebook. Won't you join us?

Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

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