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Archive for the ‘what I have on hand’ Category


My Dad tells the story of a man who lived in his town during the years he was growing up.  This man was uneducated, and had been deprived of a high school education because of the depression.  I don’t remember the entire story, but it will help you to know he had dropped out of high school, in order to do his part to save a family farm.  Well, now it was years later.  He had left home, married a wife, and now had children of his own. Weary of small tips, tired of waiting tables, he realized he needed a job with benefits. So, he applied at the county school board office for a position as a janitor in the high school. 

“I’m sorry,” he was told. “We would like to hire you, but we have requirements for our employees.  It wouldn’t make sense for us to hire someone to work in the high school, who never attended it.  You need to have a high school education in order to work here.”  The man left the school board’s office, deeply discouraged.  He needed to provide for his family.  “Why not enroll in classes and finish your education now?” the secretary had suggested. But the man had no money for school. 

He was desperate. Unable to wait for schooling,  and in dire need of cash, he began to use his pickup truck to haul materials for friends, who would pay him in cash.  He hauled everything from furniture to hay bales to trash. He did such a wonderful job, his friends  began recommending him to their friends, and those new friends recommended him to larger clients. Soon, he purchased a new truck, and hired workers.  Within 3 years, he purchased a fleet of semi-trailers. 

On the day he signed contacts with the bank,  he told the officers, “If you gentlemen will witness me as I make my mark, we can close this deal.” 

 “Can’t you read or write?” they asked.  “No, I had to quit school to take care of my family.”  In astonishment they replied, “What would you have been able to do with a high school education?” 

“I’d be the janitor at the high school,” he answered.   

Wow. 

And yet, if he had been forced to choose early on, what path would be the wisest course for himself and his family; with secure benefits and a guarantee of income?  He would have taken the janitorial job, of course. 

Looking back, he realized.  When the first  job didn’t come through, he had wondered whether God had forgotten him. He felt stuck; mired into a waiting pattern; with no outlet, or hope for the future. 

Many times, when we experience hard circumstances, we do so, because our Heavenly Father is setting us up for a miracle. He allows us to experience hard circumstances so He can show us what exactly we have in our hand; something He can use to bring us into His purpose for our lives.

He has a plan, and it is a good plan.  His design is to bless us. He loves us …

His methods have not changed from days of old.  He still uses the same tools in shaping a vessel.

When Ruth found herself in a shack at the edge of a foreign city, taking care of a grumpy, embittered old widow, she did what she could to make ends meet.  She gleaned in the fields with the poor.  She took care of that widow — At the end of the story, she met and fell in love with the owner of the fields; Boaz, the city’s ruler.  She became the great-grandmother to King David of Bethlehem.

When Joseph made the mistake of flaunting his dreams and visions to jealous brothers, he ended up in slavery.  Then, falsely accused, he ended up in jail.  But he allowed God to make adjustments in his character.  He began interpreting dreams, serving wherever he could, making friends, staying hopeful — At the end of the story, he became the prime minister of a nation, saving more than a million people from death by starvation.  He also saved his family, and provided a place for them to live, setting up the founding of a nation.

When Moses murdered an official, and buried him in the sand, thinking to keep it a secret, he was discovered.  He had to run for his life, losing his place as a prince in a palace. He fled to the backside of the desert; to Midian.  He tended sheep for thirty years.   Was he forgotten? No.  He was waiting…… being seasoned by God…. His life was receiving flavor.

The prophet Elisha was greeted by a desperate widow one day.  “Help me!” she cried. “The creditors are coming to take away my two sons!  I don’t have any idea what I should do!”

The prophet smiled at her, comforting. “What do you have on hand?” he asked.

“I have a little oil in a jar,” she replied.

“Go home,” the prophet replied. “Go to your neighbors and ask to borrow as many containers as you can. Then, bring them all into your house, and begin pouring out what you have. Watch what God does.”

Unexplainably excited and hopeful, the widow went home, and did what Elisha had told her to do.  She visited all of her friends and neighbors and borrowed everything from an empty jar to a waterpot.  Then, she and her sons went inside the house and shut the door.  What was God going to do, they wondered?  With hands shaking, she lifted the small flask of oil, almost empty that morning. Amazingly, she poured out oil, and it filled the first jar, then the second.  The oil kept coming!  She looked into the flask.  Where was the oil coming from?

“Bring me another jar,” she told her son.

“There are no more jars,” he replied.

She looked into the flask.  It was almost empty once again. 

Looking around her small home, she saw every vessel she had borrowed filled to the brim with oil. How had it happened?  She hadn’t paid attention to how much was coming out of the flask.  She had just kept pouring…. Now she headed back to see Elisha. She told him what had happened.

“That’s good,” he told her.  “God is taking care of you.  Go and sell the oil.  Pay off your creditors, and you and your sons live on the rest.”

Each of the stories I have told here are true; actual accounts of the working of God in the lives of people who trusted Him, and were willing to wait for a promise to show itself.  Oh, did I tell you the first guy — the one with the trucking company — started out praying for a job?  Then, when the answer was delayed, he almost gave up….. But the delay happened for a reason ….

God wanted him to look around and see what he had on hand.

Just like the widow.

One of the habitual methods God uses in developing people, is this: He allows us to get to a place where we have to trust Him with what we have on hand.  The need becomes great — and then — strangely — He instructs us to begin “pouring out.”  It might be taking a gift to a neighbor. It might be choosing to serve someone. I don’t know what that would look like in your life right now. You will have to ask God.  Just say, “God, what do I have on hand?  What do you want me to do?”  He will show you.  He doesn’t play games. He is good. 

Sometimes, even true stories like these are hard to swallow…. but I challenge you to do so.  The fact is that God cares.  He cares about you.  He cares about your circumstance.  He knows the areas of your life where you feel desperate.  Perhaps your desperation isn’t financial; perhaps it has to do with just living your life.  Perhaps its your family; or your relationships. Perhaps you have been holding on to a promise, wondering when it will happen.  If it will happen.

Abraham’s wife, Sarah, felt that way.  She laughed when God reconfirmed His promise to Abraham…. In fact, she named her miracle son, Isaac, meaning “Laughter.”  Think about it.  She had a hard time believing God, and she still received the promise… How does that work exactly…. Because God’s grace cannot be earned by good behavior.   That might be why we call it “Grace.”  

Just remember the little boy who loaned Jesus his lunch — five loaves and two fish…. It must have been amazing to watch what God did…. So don’t worry……

What do you have on hand?

Thought to ponder: Everyone must row with the oars he has at the moment.

                                                            Old English Proverb

 Prayer of preparation for today: Father, I choose to look for Your plan and purpose in my present station and circumstance.  Show me what You have placed in my hand.  Show me the next step.  Amen

(c)2010  Duplication for profit requires permission.

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