Flour and Treasure

In the book of 1Kings in the Bible, there is a well-known story that is told in Sunday school classes all over.  In the middle of a massive drought, a widow and her son are starving- down to nothing.  About to eat their last meal, then lay down and die.  Literally.  Desperation, survival, out of options.  Weak, tired, hungry.

And then this crazy guy comes by and tells her to feed him, plus theirselves.

What!  There isn’t enough!  What are you asking?! 

But to her credit, she does, and keeps feeding him throughout the drought, and neither her oil nor her flour run out until the end of the drought.  – Here’s the original story, which is told much better-

I Kings 17:8- 15

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

13 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 son. 14 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.’”

15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

Now, there are tons of different aspects to this story, but a new one hit me today. 

Think of the value of that jar of oil and jug of flour.  Never emptying in the middle of a wasteland.  They would be priceless; highly prized and sought after.

We, as Christians, are the same.

We are filled with Christ, and overflowing with the treasure of Him!  We are never emptied of Him as long as we are relying on Him to provide for us and be in us.  We are something that cannot be ignored, a treasure chest sitting open in the middle of Times Square, highly accessible.  With our obedience of what God asks of us, we carry the most valuable treasure EVER.

And that, my friends, is worth and meaning for your life.

 

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God’s Graffitti

 I have a confession.  I like graffiti.  Not the ‘for a good time call…..’ or the various obscene(ities) painted on assorted surfaces, but the great, artwork paintings usually found on the side of railroad cars and some buildings.  Some graffiti is so artistic it blows my mind that someone can do that with a spray can and under the stress of getting caught, and also knowing that, sooner or later, someone is going to paint over it. 

Now, keep in mind I am not condoning graffiti- I am aware it is illegal, and I am not saying that it’s great painted anywhere against the wishes of the owner of that property, but some of it is still amazing.  When my husband worked on the railroad, he said the coolest one he ever saw on a railcar was a giant purple gorilla. How cool is that?!?

And guess what?  God is a graffiti artist too.  Jeremiah 31:33 says

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel  after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds  and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,  and they will be my people.

God writes on us, labeling us as His- ‘tagging’ us.  And you know that anything written by God is going to be way cooler than a giant purple gorilla!!!

-proud to be marked by God as His.  🙂

Marbles, Men In Black, and iMmensity

The Attributes of God, Part II

His Immensity

 God is immense and immanent.  To be immanent is to be everywhere, at once.  Think about it.  He is simultaneously in you and holding the planets in His Hand.  He is in the smallest cell and He is at the bottom of the ocean and He is in the sky and He is in your cubicle and walking on the stars.  There is no place He is not, and yet He is not contained by His creation- He contains it.  Which makes my brain smoke but also is, frankly, a bit freaky to think about- my honest immediate gut reaction is ‘Ewwww- what a stalker’.  But, then I think about how that means I can never be outside of His love or care; how He is not standing watching me for His own gain or condemning me as He watches me.  He is there because he loves me and He wants to be with me.   Which is really cool.  It’s like having a really good friend who never turns their back on you or doesn’t understand that rally cool thing you want to tell them, and who can help you with anything.  All you have to do is ask.

 

To be immense is to be endlessly big, which is somewhat incorporated in the idea of immanence, discussed above.  It also comes from a different direction of thinking, though.  Ironically, thinking very small.  The book gives a picture, from a writing by Lady Julien of Norwich (a 14th century Christian mystic), of the world and universe and every known bit of existence and creation as being a walnut.  A walnut- nothing more.  Small, bitty.  And God is everything outside of that and in that.   That is not something I have never thought of before, although I think of it more along the lines of the very end of Men In Black when all the galaxies are just marbles in a bag, since I don’t really like walnuts but like marbles…..

 

Anyway, so if God is in and around and bigger than everything, what does that mean for me?  Part of what it means is that I need to be sure my sights are not set on just obtaining the marble (or walnut, if you prefer), but on seeing and knowing the bigger Thing- God.  The marble will never satisfy, because, in the long run, it’s really just a marble.  Sure it looks huge and cool to think of all my dreams really happening and obtaining the things I desire, but other things in my life have been the same.  And obtaining them did not end my longing for more.  It was not until I learned how to seek God first, and let the dreams and desires of mine just fall into line behind Him, that I found peace in my heart.

 

 And He must be my main focus- no husband and God, no bakery farm and God, no whatever else and God.  Just God.  Those other things are good- He gave them to me, and it is my responsibility and joy to take care of them and love them; but they are not my meaning.  They are not my life. They are not necessary for my happiness.   God is my life and my focus.  When He is in focus, all else is clear.  When He is not in focus, all is fuzzy, because He is, after all, everywhere I look.  All is confusion if I am not in touch with the clarity at the center of everything.

 

A very immense God.

The concept of Infinity and brain cramps……

God has been dealing with me alot lately about the concept of identity- who i really am.  I really don’t see myself like I should.  But, I really don’t like to look at myself alot.  So I decided it would be better to learn more about God and Who He is, and see myself in light of that.  So, I started reading the book Attributes of God- volume 1, by A. W. Tozer, and want to write some of the things that God is speaking to me through it.  I hope that they can be a blessing to whomever reads this.

His Infinity

God is absolutely endless.  If He was not, He would not be God.  Who can believe in a God, who can fully trust in a God Who is not absolute?  If He doesn’t own it all, overcome it all, if He isn’t bigger that it all, if He isn’t eternal, unchanging, never ending, He is really not much better than us.  He’s just a very good, powerful man.  And who wants to place their trust in a (hu)man?  It would make Him less than perfect, less than complete.  Who knows, you might be trusting Him and loving Him, and one day come to the part of Him that He doesn’t have or overcome or know, and  OOPS!  What now?  This Being that you have built your whole life on trusting and loving and following is suddenly not able to trust or love or lead you.  He is suddenly not really God, because now you have to rely on yourself and you are outside of what He is.  And by definition, God is always over us.   Creation, space, time, all the galaxies and stars, us, are all in His heart.  He surrounds all that is.  He is bigger than all of it.

And there is a flip side.  God, in His endless, eternal, unchanging infiniteness, came down to our level and became a man so that we could see Him en masse; so that we could know Him and understand Him better and have a relationship with Him.  I do not believe that Jesus was the first time God came to earth- there are many other examples listed in the Bible, and I believe there were probably some outside of those.  But, those times were different.  He came for a very short period of time and did not physically come as a man, but as God represented as a man.  Jesus had a long ministry, and was both God and man.  (I know the God-man thing is hard to understand- I sometimes have a hard time understanding it.  In fact, I’m not sure I really do understand the mechanics of it at all- how God can physically be totally man and still be totally God, but I accept that it is true and happened, even though I don’t understand it fully.  Some things the human mind cannot comprehend, and mine less than others’ sometimes.)   Jesus’ ministry was also different from the previous appearances of God on earth because, in the previous ones, God came to speak to a person or two, whereas Jesus came to speak and interact with many people.  Previous occurrences were to deliver words, Jesus was to deliver people.

But even in this becoming human, He did not lose His infiniteness.  It was merely an extension of Himself- a way for us to see the infinite in a finite way.  We cannot truly deal with the infinite- it is outside of our realm of understanding.  Everything we do and think involves some level of measurement, and it is impossible for us to really think about things outside of measurement without getting a brain cramp or two.  The example given in the book, which is taken from C.S.Lewis, is to think of an enormous, endless piece of paper stretching in all directions, covering everything in existence.  Put a mark on it with a pencil.  Where you put your pencil down is where time began, where you pick your pencil up is where time ends.  Everything outside of that is God.  Think about it for a bit.

When your brain stops smoking and untangles from its knot, think about what is even cooler.  That is the God who loves us and has spent all of His infinite existence thinking about and chasing after and who created everything for you.

That is our value.  That is our identity.

That is infinitely amazing.

Of Trust and Timing

Reading about David and his reign, about his life.  It is striking to me how God clearly gave him his kingship; his kingdom, yet he always had to fight for it.  He had to fight to keep it together; to keep it in one piece; to even have it.  He lived for years as a fugitive; as a homeless, wandering warrior after he had been anointed as king.  He could have stood up and forced the issue with Saul long before the matter was resolved yet he did not.  He waited on God’s timing.  He used to time to protect himself and his followers, but did not necessarily even work toward establishing his kingdom.  He worked toward establishing and deepening his relationship with God.  He could have stood up against Absalom and all the others that stood against him at other times much more than he did.  He didn’t even wish Absalom’s death, which would have been perfectly understandable from a human standpoint.  After all, he had many sons- what’s the death of one?  Death of one as an example for all?  He chose mercy, both in this situation and with Saul, when he refused to kill him, even though he was given the opportunity numerous times.  I think about how I deal with conflict in my own life- how often I think that ‘because God wills it, it will be easy, or it will be at least semi-easy”.  How often I want the absence of the things that stand in my way without thinking about WHY they are in the way, without thinking about them in terms of mercy and grace.  Without relying on God to provide the way through.

Although I am not big on the idea of modeling our lives on anyone except Christ, it is something to really think about.  David was the king of this very prosperous, but very tiny country.  He had power, wealth, esteem, boldness, strength.  Yet he humbled himself to follow God.  He waited on God.  He was patient.  It was costly to him to do this- he lost years of when he could have been acting king.  He lost time with his family, time with his friend Jonathan; I would venture to guess it cost much money and reputation.  How does it look to have a king who won’t kill a rival?  Yes, merciful, but also weak.

But his strength was in God.  God’s timing was everything to him.  And reading Psalms, I don’t believe he had some prophetic knowledge of knowing when or how long everything would take.  He just trusted.

So I guess the lesson to be learned is to trust God always, to let go of striving to make it in our own, and to seek God above all else that we seek.

Micah 6:8- He has shown you, O man, what is good,

And what the Lord requires of you.

To do justice,

To love mercy,

To walk humbly with your God.