I have mentioned before that this year has been a little overwhelming, although I am starting to think that this is just the new normal for us. With nine children, that gives us eleven people worth of possible drama and crisis in the family. So even if only a few of them are doing their share of it, that keeps us hopping.
With the idea of just dealing with this as our normal life, I realized that I needed to build myself up a little, strengthen my coping muscles, and make sure I was ready to deal with a little extra - not just running on a nearly empty tank all the time. I wasn't sure how to do that, or even how to start. Then I hit what seemed to be a theme in my bible study: Jars.
Here's my disclaimer again: I know I am no scripture scholar, and even my husband thinks I'm a little crazy to tie some of these particular scriptures together. I think his exact words were, "You know, not every bible verse is speaking directly to YOU." Hmph. But I bounced these ideas off of a couple other moms and they seemed to understand. So take it all with a grain of salt and see if it makes any sense to you.
The first instance of jars I ran into was the Story of the Widow and the Oil. 2 Kings 4:1-7
A certain woman, the widow of one of the guild prophets, cried out to Elisha: “My husband, your servant, is dead. You know that he revered the LORD, yet now his creditor has come to take my two children into servitude.” Elisha answered her, “What am I to do for you? Tell me what you have in the house.” She replied, “This servant of yours has nothing in the house but a jug of oil.” He said, “Go out, borrow vessels from all your neighbors—as many empty vessels as you can. Then come back and close the door on yourself and your children; pour the oil into all the vessels, and as each is filled, set it aside.” So she went out. She closed the door on herself and her children and, as they handed her the vessels, she would pour in oil. When all the vessels were filled, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” He answered, “There is none left.” And then the oil stopped. She went and told the man of God, who said, “Go sell the oil to pay off your creditor; with what remains, you and your children can live.”
At the time I read this I was feeling completely spent just about all the time. Just as I met an urgent need in one child, another would have an even greater need. I was bouncing from one thing to the next, with never quite enough time to plan ahead, rebuild my strength, or anticipate which direction I would be spinning off to next. I was reduced to pinball mothering. After reading this passage, this verse became my prayer, I even wrote it up above the changing table so I could read it multiple times a day:
She replied, “This servant of yours has nothing in the house but a jug of oil.”She asked for help. Then she offered all that she had, (much like another little boy had done) the only thing of value she owned, one jug of olive oil. And then what did Elisha tell her to do? Get more jars!
God filled up as many jars as she could provide. All He asked of her was everything she had.
Now, I am not this widow, and I have plenty of olive oil. My life is not a biblical miracle. This isn't about my own importance in any way. Time and again in scripture, God asks for our all and when it is freely given, He blesses it and makes it more than we could ever dream. What spoke to me here was the way that He multiplied her resources. He required her to gather jars.
I was left with the question: what are my jars? I knew I was pretty much on empty, but I wasn't sure just what I was needing to be filled. I was willing to go and gather jars to be filled if I could just figure out what my jars were supposed to be.
The key to this was found in what that one jar was to the widow. It was all she had of value. Or, to flip that around for myself, it is all that I value. She freely offered that one jar, and I need to look at all the things I find important and offer those up as well. My children, my husband, my home, my toys (iPhone and kindle come to mind), my projects and plans, my hopes, my prayers, and most especially my time are all my jars.
One at a time, I am handing each one to Him and asking Him to fill them up. Slowly, day by day, instead of being drained by the things I value, I find that I am more likely to have a little left over. A little time, a little sanity, a little energy... never an excess, because it is still real life and God really isn't interested in making me into some kind of non-sleep-needing superhero. But there is enough. And that is what I needed.
More on Jars next week.