empty inkwells with title

Questions from Elisha

by Jennifer Mills Barnes


“Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have [of value]

in the house?’ She said, ‘Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a

[small] jar of [olive] oil’”

(2 Kings 4:2, AMP).


The widow initially stated, “Nothing, except—”

How many times have we defined our assets as “nothing?” I have no ideas, no motivation, no plan for this day of writing. Except—God plants an insignificant thought, a piddling idea, an inkling of sorts, at the back of our mind. Perhaps we do have just a bit of oil. Maybe a snippet of an idea.

Then Elisha instructed the woman, “Go to your people. Ask for their perfume jars, five-gallon buckets, and wedding-sized water jugs. And not just a few. Get them all.”

Exhausted and teary, the woman and her sons awaited impending doom. But they followed Elijah’s strange instructions. They swallowed their pride, tamped down their fears, and traipsed door-to-door to solicit vessels.

Embarrassment, confusion, and sorrow might have daunted their steps. What would the neighbors think of this destitute family’s request for jars?  Imagine if they had given up and only collected a few.

The borrowed containers likely filled the table and floor space of their humble abode. As instructed, the woman shut the door. The sons passed the first waterpot and she poured. The slow-pouring oil trickled into the canister. And trickled and trickled.

Finally, oil filled to the brim. They must have been bewildered by the volume of oil that flowed from their empty-ish flask.

“Pass me another,” the widow might have said with a gleam in her eye.

Oil drizzled, seeped, and oozed into the bowls, pitchers, and vases. Think of it. The oil dripped until the last barrel had been filled. Then, and only then, did it stop.

When discouraged from writing, we often focus on the belief we have nothing. Instead, our small start might represent more than we realize. Perhaps we hold a slip of a story, a dabble of a devotion, or an idea that God impressed upon our hearts. With a word of direction from the Lord, we can move forward.

Join me in taking the next step of faith. Call upon your faithful Creator. Gather all the vessels. Shut your door and start pouring your heart on the page.

Father, sometimes I’m overwhelmed and wonder what’s next for me. Open my eyes to reveal what might seem insignificant, one small place to start. Inspire me to pour your words on your page and not stop. Ignite me to share my gift of writing with others. Amen.


Jennifer Barnes headshotAward-winning teacher, Jennifer Mills Barnes knew God intentionally positioned her with young children and their families for thirty years. College students, conference attendees, and teachers followed their learning journey through her writing, conference presentations, and her blog. Since retirement, God has revealed a new plan of writing His stories. You are welcome to follow along at www.jennifermbarnes.com and Pinterest.

4 thoughts on “Questions from Elisha by Jennifer Mills Barnes”

    1. Yes, the ways He provides aren’t often the ways we think. Thank you so much for reading.

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