Elijah is instructed by the Lord in 1 Kings 17 to go to a certain place and wait. But, his time is not spent in vain, the Lord continues to use him, providentially, to bless the lives of those around him. After leaving King Ahab’s presence, Elijah…directed by the Lord…goes into hiding by the brook Cherith, where he lived for probably a year, and then God tells him to leave. I am certain that the Lord’s instructions likely shock Elijah, but such should be the case when God is in the driver’s seat. He commands Elijah to travel northwest about a hundred miles into Gentile territory to the Phoenician city of Zarephath. Since Zarephath is not too far from Jezebel’s home city of Sidon, he will be living in enemy territory. This would prove not to be too unusual for the Lord, as His own Son would travel to the same area to minister to a foreign woman. Even more, Elijah is instructed to live with a widow whom God has selected to care for him, and widows are usually among the neediest people in the land. And since Phoenicia depends upon Israel for much of its food supply, food would not be plentiful. But, when God sends us, we must obey and leave the rest to Him. As one has said, “We do not live on man’s explanations, but upon God’s promises.” In accordance with this, when we consider the early days of the church in Jerusalem in Acts, the believers had all that they needed (Acts 4:34-35), as they all shared with one another in order that the blessings of the Lord could grow.
It is likely that Elijah stays with her for two years (18:1). The fact that this woman has been instructed by the Lord is by no means proof that she is a believer in the God of Israel -- this is not indicated. In fact, the widow speaks of Jehovah as “the Lord your God.” It is not the first time that God has used an outsider…as he used Rahab the harlot and Cyrus, king of Medo-Persia (among many others) in order to accomplish His purposes. The woman has very few things of value – a little oil in a flask, a handful of barley in a large grain jar, and a few sticks to provide fuel for a fire. But, Elijah’s resources are great, for the Lord Almighty has promised to take care of him, his hostess, and her son. Elijah gives her God’s promise that neither the jar of grain nor the flask of oil will be used up before the end of the drought and famine. This is sort of like winning gasoline for a year, but much better. In our modern society with credit cards and convenience shopping, we need to remember that each meal that we eat is a blessing from the hand of God. We may or may not live far from the farmers, orchardists who grow our food, but we cannot live without them. “Give us this day our daily bread” should be more than just a line in a prayer. Food for thought (no pun intended).
To help us to better understand the workings of the Lord in our everyday lives, Chris Appleby shares this -- It was Sunday morning and Harry was off. He pulled out of his driveway in his 2-seater convertible, with the roof closed because of typical Melbourne driving rain, and headed for church. But as he turned into the main road he saw ahead of him three bedraggled figures huddled under a single umbrella at the next bus stop. One was old Mrs. Fletcher. She still insisted on getting to church by herself, despite her arthritis which was always worse in wet weather. There was Dr. Jones, the local general practitioner. A year earlier Dr. Jones had diagnosed a rare and dangerous disease that Harry had contracted on an overseas holiday, so Harry virtually owed him his life. And the third person was Judith. Harry had had a crush on Judith for the past 6 months since she joined their church, but had never had the courage or the opportunity to ask her out. Harry had about 3 seconds to decide what to do. There was only one spare seat. Who should he offer a lift to? But 3 seconds was enough. He pulled to a halt, jumped out, passed the keys to Dr. Jones, helped Mrs. Fletcher into the passenger seat, and then modestly waved them good-bye as he huddled close to Judith under the umbrella. God’s sovereignty and our action so often go hand in hand.
None of this really should be surprising, even though it still often does surprise us. But, if the God of the universe could create the universe…something out of nothing…He really should be able to handle all of the matters in our daily lives that need to be taken care of -- and so He does. I want to offer one final story to help us to understand that we really need to trust in Him. James Brown shares this -- there is no situation I can get into that God cannot get me out of it. Some years ago when I was learning to fly, my instructor told me to put the plane into a steep and extended dive. I was totally unprepared for what was about to happen. After a brief time the engine stalled, and the plane began to plunge out-of-control. It soon became evident that the instructor was not going to help me at all. After a few seconds, which seemed like eternity, my mind began to function again. I quickly corrected the situation. Immediately I turned to the instructor and began to vent my fearful frustrations on him. He very calmly said to me, "There is no position you can get this airplane into that I cannot get you out of. If you want to learn to fly, go up there and do it again." At that moment God seemed to be saying to me, "Remember this. As you serve Me, there is no situation you can get yourself into that I cannot get you out of. If you trust me, you will be all right." That lesson has been proven true in my ministry many times over the years. And even better when we simply trust the Lord for His guidance first and foremost, as He will lead to where we need to be from day to day.