I’ve always been fascinated with the story of Elijah in I Kings 17. After he prophesied there would be a drought, God said, “Get out of here, and fast. Head east and hide out at Kerith Ravine on the other side of the Jordan River. You can drink fresh water from the brook; I’ve commanded the ravens to feed you.” It wasn’t long though before the brook dried up because of the drought. Then God told him to go to a certain city and live there. He told him that he had instructed a widow woman to feed him.
My question has always been, “Why did God allow the brook to dry up?” After all, he went to the place of God’s provision. Why did he have to leave that place? He was where he was supposed to be. Then I looked at the story from the other side. Think about the widow. She knew she was about to run out of flour and oil. She knew there was nothing more she could do. She knew that when her flour ran out, she and her son would die. Knowing that, I can imagine her calling out to God in desperation for help. I can hear her crying each night wondering when God would answer her prayers.
Then, one day, God speaks to her. He said, “I’m going to send a prophet to you. Prepare him a meal and you will get your answer.” As each day passed, she looked for the prophet. Each day that passed without his arrival the flour and oil went down. Finally she was down to her last bit of flour and oil. Death was around the corner. She had quit looking for the prophet and was looking for sticks to burn in order to prepare her last meal. As she was scouring the ground for firewood, a voice came from behind her, “Please, would you bring me a little water in a jug?” She barely looked up and nodded. As she headed to the well, he called out, “And while you’re at it, would you bring me something to eat?”
I’m sure her eyes lit up and she whipped around. “Could this be the prophet,” she thought. Only one way to find out. “I have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a bottle; you found me scratching together just enough firewood to make a last meal for my son and me. After we eat it, we’ll die,” she said. Any stranger would have let her eat her last meal, but the prophet would still ask for it. She had to make sure so she could be obedient if it was him. Elijah told her not to worry. He said, “Make a small biscuit for me and bring it back here. Then go and make a meal from what’s left.” The oil and flour didn’t empty until the drought was over.
We rarely know why God moves us from a place of provision or causes the brook of blessings to dry up. In this case, I believe it was to answer the widow’s prayer. God needed Elijah to move so he cut off his source. For the widow, she had to wait until she was down to her last meal. She was then asked to give it up in order to be blessed. Both had to trust God. Both had to be obedient or both would have died. God asked both to give up what they had for the other. What has God asked you to give up? It may be all you have, but it will be the gateway to miracles. Where is God trying to move you to? You may not understand now, but your obedience will lead you to another place of provision. Obedience is always required before the blessing.