Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 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.” 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?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
“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.”
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. 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.’”
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. 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.
– 1 Kings 16:7-16
Let me tell you a miracle story. Or is it an old man imagining things?
I realized a month ago that our supply of laundry detergent was getting extremely low. My wife had just been taken from the hospital to a rehabilitation center. I was doing all things domestic at the time. Shopping for laundry detergent was just one of the things. I needed some medications, so I picked up laundry detergent while I was there at the warehouse store. So, it was not like the widow of Zarephath. I already had the new laundry detergent. I was not going to use the last and then die. But…
I looked into the vent opening on the old jug. I guessed we had 2 -3 more washes of clothes left. I did laundry twice a week, two or three loads each time, for the next two weeks. There was not enough detergent left to splash when I shook the jug, but it filled the cup to the proper line, again and again.
Note: To those who get confused by what line to use, the line near the top of the cup is a groove to ensure that the cup stays on the jug from the factory to the store. If you fill to that line, you have used possible twice or three times too much detergent. The laundry manufacturers are counting on you not reading the instructions. Of course, the next confusion comes upon determining whether the load is ‘heavy soiled’, etc.
It is now two weeks later. I dare not look into the jug. For the past four loads of clothing, there has been no weight shift from liquid moving in the jug, but I have picked up the jug, pushed the rubber button that opens the valve, and detergent comes out. It feels like the jug is empty, but I have the second load in the washer now. Will I get another load out of the jug on Saturday? (This was written on Wednesday.)
Okay, if I did not think of the widow of Zarephath when I used the detergent, it would simply be a story about an old man who used to have an eye for spatial reasoning, but either the eyes or the reasoning is gone. He used to take the confines of a relatively square container and judge how much cylindrical cups could be filled by it. He still can use his spatial reasoning when it comes to putting leftovers away. But in thinking of Elijah’s miracle in the home of the widow of Zarephath, I have invoked a miracle upon the jug of detergent. Each load of laundry becomes a time of holy worship.
Whether it is a miracle of not is not necessary. Each time I pick up the jug, I think I might feel a small film of detergent shift. I don’t have to say the words, but my thoughts are, “God, will there be enough for another load of clothing?” Maybe Saturday, maybe next week, the jug will be empty. But I thought that two or three weeks ago.
Each time I tip the jug, I get a blessing from the Lord. I get more detergent, and I get a reminder that God is with me and He answers my prayers.
I have another story. I once had an old jar of aftershave. The jar was opaque, looking like an earthen jar. When it was almost empty, I thought each splash would be my last. … Okay, same story, just aftershave instead of laundry detergent. Then there was the time with the deodorant stick… Too much?
When the Scriptures say that we need to keep Scripture on our heart, memorization is a good thing, but applying an old story to something that is happening to you right now brings the Scripture alive, whether you can recite it or not. It says that God is real. It says that God is working in your life right now. Those dusty old stories are what happened thousands of years ago, but it can happen today. It does happen today. It did happen for me, again.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.