Elisha reveals that it is possible to go from trapped by expectations to…
Set-Free by the Exceptions (2 Kings 4:2-4) 2 Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” 3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
When the widow explains her ordeal, it is clear that when she looks at her situation she sees no opportunity, nothing to work with, and yet it is the very thing that she has Overlooked that will be the means for her to Overcome! It is in the exception where Elisha sees the opportunity for her to be set-free. God in the process drives the widow and us outside of what we know—beyond ourselves, beyond our limitations, beyond our preferences. Jesus got his twelve disciples to the same starting place as the widow as he sent them out, “He told them: “Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.” He pushes them to depend on the exception rather than give into the expectation. It should remind us that our security is never found in possessing God but in pursuing Him. For Sarah, she worked through a list of people she thought were her friends. Calling one after another finding that each one was quick to check her off, to push her away, to make an excuse. She had nothing, except one more person to call. Like the widow approaching Elisha, Sarah reached out to the secretary at her part-time student job named Alice. Sarah called and asked if Alice would mind picking her up and dropping her off at the mall. Really having no idea where somewhere was. So after work, Alice picked her up, listening to her story as Elisha listened, finally deciding to become the exception in Sarah’s life….as she said, “I have no one, nothing, no help, no family…Alice was able to say except me! Taking Sarah into her home reassuringly saying, “You are coming home with me tonight and we will figure it out from there.”
Suddenly, she could love like Christ loved her. As Alice recounted the story, “I had a choice: I could ignore her or I could bare her burdens as my own.” She was the exception that planted the seeds for something exceptional. We are given the chance to become the exception in someone’s life just as Christ becomes the exception in ours through our darkest, deepest, loneliest desperation with sin. He bore our burdens instead of treating us as a burden. Maybe you tell yourself, “God, you could never use me like that, not with my laundry list of issues” and yet it is in our limitations that we see God’s limitless grace. Paul articulates the power for us to live differently in response: 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now it isn’t “IF only I had more, I could do something that matters!” Through Christ’s blood our penalty has been paid. We see one of God’s many names: Jehovah-rophe–Jehovah heals offered through Christ and carried out through Christ followers. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have–suddenly we have enough through Christ. You may not have the finances to write a check for thousands to a cause you believe in, but maybe it is the 10 dollars a month that you do have that can start making a difference. You might not have the vacation time to go on a month long mission trip, but you might have one day a week to check in on your widowed neighbor. You might be saying, “if only I could get over the fear of speaking in public, I could then change people’s lives…When God is saying I want to use your ability to listen and talk one on one by mentoring someone in the church or in the community.”