Summer is here. What comes to mind when you think of summer? For me, summer each year- despite the Arizona heat- is like a long sigh of relief. School is out (no more carpool, projects, or progress reports to squabble over!), and our family schedule eases down to a comfortable, easier pace. Not only that, but summers usually bring swim parties, camping trips along the Colorado rivers, beach days, and the making of fond family memories. And, honestly, several big waffle ice cream cones. It’s just not summer without them!
In my particular season of life, summers are a season to truly cherish for there are only a few summers left until my boys are men and my home is oddly quiet and the years are no longer marked by school years. And dirty socks laying all over the living room.
Think back for a moment. What marks the years as they are passing by? What are the mile markers along the way? Those prized moments along the journey that make your heart swell with joy? Close your eyes. Breathe. Look back.
What are they?
If you are like me, some of these come rushing back in an instant. They are different for all of us…
Beautiful baby boy nestled safely in my arms… three times over.
Our first home. A vegetable garden. Swing set. Rose bushes by the front door.
And the list goes on and on. Some mile markers were signposts along a rockier path.
These mark the journey as well. Ironically I cherish the difficult moments as much as the beautiful ones for how they’ve made me, and us, along the way.
There are other markers, as well.
The first year I taught Sunday school. I was 16.
My first serious Bible study when I was 25.
My first “mother” in the faith who prayed over me, taught me from her life experiences,
and cared about the woman I was becoming.
The first two college girls I mentored, loved. Misty and Davina.
The first time I prayed for a miracle, and God said yes.
Strung together, these seasons have shaped me in ways I struggle to put words to. They deepened me, stretched me, terrified me, and burst open my heart for a new fullness I had not previously, ever, known. These are treasures to me- not the “treasures” of bank accounts or other worthless plunder- but true treasures in the storehouse of my life.
As it has been said, we don’t remember days- the ticking of time, the tediousness of tasks, the day in and day out of life. We remember moments. Mile markers.
There was a woman once – a widow- who had a long list of mile markers of her own. Marriage. Beloved children. Tragedies that break a woman’s heart. These were the signposts along her journey. But then.
I love those two words in any woman’s story… but then.
But then her cries were heard by a prophet of God…
"I have nothing. Nothing, except… a jar of oil."
Have you heard of it?
“Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” 2 Kings 4:1-8 ESV
I can only imagine her destitution. I can only imagine her fallen dreams, her fears, her poignant pleas for mercy. I can close my eyes and hear her words.
I. Have. Nothing.
Just a jar. And a ho-hum staple of an ingredient. Oil. Nothing fancy. Nothing worth anything.
If not for God.
To me, this is one of the most life-giving, hope infusing narratives in the Word. For me, it screams INVITATION!
Are you empty?
Set out the jars of your heart before the Lord. He shall pour forth the provision of His very mercy out to you until you can’t hold another drop.
Are you alone?
Borrow from those close hearted neighbors positioned all around you and they shall help you set your need before the Lord.
Are you feeling like you have no great thing in your “pantry” that will ward off the threats of the future days?
You need nothing you don’t already have. The simplest state of what you possess is all the Lord needs to multiply you into a fullness you do not yet know. Set it before Him. He shall be faithful!
A new season is upon us. It is summer. What will you do? Will you drift through the next few months and find no monumental mileposts staked up along the path? Or will you set out the jars of your life and ask God to pour out a new measure of His mercy into all your needs? All your hopes? All your dreams?
What will your summer moments be? Those precious periods that will stay with you forever?
Today marks the beginning of our SIMPLY YOU Bible series. I hope and pray you will seek the Lord this summer over what it means to be SIMPLY YOU. I pray that as you and I head into this new season, we will not take a vacation from God and waste away the miles stretched before us over the summer. Instead, I want to draw near. I want to be brave. I want to believe that God has a new measure ready to pour out over my life if I would gather them up and set all the empty places before him in faith.
Will you join me? YES??? Then go! Gather your jars and ASK, dear one, for His miraculous plenty!
Something Simple to Ponder & Pray:
1. Sometimes what I need is a fresh reminder that God CAN and God WILL. He is a miracle working God- not because he DOES miracles, but because it is who HE IS! If you need to be built up in your most holy faith (Jude 1:20) and reminded that this is your God, consider reading about some of His miraculous interventions in people’s lives through the Scriptures. I personally love the book of Daniel, the book of John, or keep reading in 2 Kings. God showed himself to be amazingly faithful, miraculous, and merciful in Elijah’s life and in the lives of those he encountered.
2. I have taken the jar thing literally and have had a shelf of jars for almost a year on a shelf. They are labeled with the areas in my life that I am asking, hoping, and expecting the miraculous filling of God over. Consider doing this as a sincere act of faith! Want to include others? Then ask your friends for jars! Sometimes we shy away from telling anyone else that we actually have areas of need, sorrow, or emptiness. But then we forfeit the love and also the praying that someone can do on our behalf. So look around! Who are the close hearted “neighbors” God has positioned in your life? Ask them for a jar! Then set it out in faith that God will meet you in the midst of your asking!
3. Look back over your journey. Spend some time reflecting on the mileposts of your path. Celebrate the joys. Mourn the sorrows. Take note God's faithfulness to you along the way. Ask God for new, glorious mile markers in the coming weeks!
Next week, our first guest, Julie Lane, will lead us through what it means to be "Happy Being Me." Until then, keep believing!