May 22, 2024
rocky stream between grass fields

Provision in shaky places

“I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 1 Kings 17:9

I have been thinking about what probably crossed Elijah’s mind after he was uprooted by drought from the Kerith Ravine where he was hiding from Ahab and a famine, with instructions to head into Jezebel’s territory — to be fed by a widow. A who now?

But see, Elijah had just come from a season of being fed by ravens. Crows. Those birds that will feed on anything — from small mammals to nesting birds, eggs, berries, to scavenging from other predators and human landfills.

For three years God had used this unlikely source to feed Elijah. Always-hungry crows were scavenging for the prophet of God.
Who else has been sustained from unlikely sources? Did God ever send you to a place or asked you to stay somewhere where you wanted to tell him, “Respectfully, but no; not there!” “Kenya Lord? With its current cost of living?” “Tanzania Lord? Have you seen their GDP?” “Saudi Arabia? Have you watched horror stories on Lynn Ngugi?” “Shags? Hauko serious. That’s where the dead go to die.”

Elijah had learnt obedience. That when our paths are stuck on God; God is the way. And he leads to all manner of places. We are never in the wrong place as long as we are being led by God.

So Elijah didn’t build a castle with a moat by the riverside and grumble when he had to move because he understood that when God leads we follow. God opens and closes doors. It’s not useful to stand in front of a door that has been shut willing it to re-open when God is ushering you to a new place of provision. Seasons start and end, and it’s okay.

Next, Elijah shows up at a widow’s place, in his archenemy’s territory, and informs her she is supposed to feed him. The poor woman didn’t seem to have received the memo and her empty pantry was proof. Doesn’t God lead to unlikely places sometimes? Jesus later praises the faith of this widow who seemed to say, “but at thy word Lord.”

Elijah’s word to the widow? “Don’t be afraid.” Usiogope, even in this impossible scenario. Why? “For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

Again, Elijah didn’t idolise the provision and make a marriage proposal. He understands that the master has led him to that place in that season for his provision and her provision. “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” That was the instruction. And he stays there until the next instruction.

Sometimes our situations — jobs, living arrangements, countries of residence — are just ravens, Keriths or widows of Zarephath — to meet immediate needs. Sometimes they feel inhospitable, shaky, scandalous, insufficient in themselves, with no future. We are not meant to build a hacienda in the reeds, become crow farmers or marry the widow. And while we may be disappointed when a season ends, these are just tools God uses.

From Elijah we know he can use anything and anyone. And in those places we become mutual answers to one another’s prayers.

What we will not do is give in to fear and anxiety, as if by our worrying we can make one hair on our heads turn grey.

This is how I’m learning to stop obsessing about the future. I will just follow Christ wherever he leads, because aware of it or not, some brooks, crows and widows have been directed to supply me with food.

Jesus told his disciples, “I am the way.” Not “I will show you the way.” Not, “I have the map for the way.” Jesus is the way. Jesus is the purpose. Jesus is the calling. Stick by Jesus. He will take you where he needs you. And where he leads is exactly where you need to be.

When Kerith dries up, God will command a widow to feed us. “The duty is the same —to follow God’s voice, whether it take us face to face with Ahab and Jezebel or into the wild gorge,” writes Alexander MacLaren in a commentary on the story.


Kageni Muse

Kageni Muse is a journalist living in Nairobi. She is married to Muse and together they have three children. She is a passionate advocate for children, families and the church and daydreams of a hammock with a view of the hills.

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