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When You Pick up Sticks

Eight large pin-oak trees surround our old farmhouse. They provide shade and a peaceful cover on the property. I think they are lovely. However, I admit there is a love-hate relationship with the massive trees. The trade-off is that we are constantly picking up sticks.


After the wind blows, we pick up sticks.


After a rainstorm, we pick up sticks.


Before the yard can be mowed, we pick up sticks. I love my trees, but picking up sticks - not so much.



My mind travels to my picking up sticks and an unnamed woman of the Old Testament who also picked up sticks. She is a quiet soul tucked in the book of 1 Kings. This lady not only picked up sticks, but she surrendered her schedule. She gave her limited supplies and, most of all, had sincere faith. Through her actions, her life was forever changed. Her son’s life was restored. The Lord used her to feed and house a man of God. I believe her city was impacted, and generations have marked her story.


If you have heard this story, it is often told with a focus on the male, who is a hero of the faith. But today, I share through the eyes of the woman - another hero.


I Kings 17: 8-16

Then the word of the Lord came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first, make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward, make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, nor did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.


Here is a simple widow woman - doing a simple thing - picking up sticks - yet because she said yes - everything changed.


Here is a simple widow woman - doing a simple thing - picking up sticks - yet because she said yes - everything changed.

Who is this lady? She is a female, a foreigner (Luke 4:26), a widow, perhaps broken from hurt. We know she was poor, desperate, and nearly out of food. Some would see her as a second-class citizen. However, I see her very differently. She was a woman on mission.


Here are three points I am learning from this widow's life:


1. She said yes to the Lord.

She says yes to God’s commands. Verse eight reads, “I have commanded a widow there to feed you."

In order to say yes, she surrendered her schedule. She was picking up sticks, caring for her family, and preparing the last meal, and a stranger interrupted her plans with a request. He wanted to be fed.

She could have seen it as an interruption, but really it was an invitation to serve a good and Holy God. So she surrendered her schedule to meet another. She recognized where God was leading, and she let go of what she had planned to follow God’s plan. I don't know about you, but I like my schedule - it is planned, it is full. When interruptions come into my life, I want to complain. However, this is not what we see from this widow. She surrendered herself to what God had planned for her. It was a much better plan than her plan. However, she had to say yes to see God's rescue for her life. A woman on mission says yes to God over her own schedule.

She served, and before she even completed the request, a second was voiced. She gave her service. Verse ten reads, and he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” Friend, have you ever been asked to serve, and before you could even complete the task, another was asked of you? Have you ever been in the middle of a job that grew into more and more tasks?

Me too! However, a woman living for the Lord surrenders her schedule to serve others. A woman living on mission says yes to the Lord's promptings.

She said yes!


2. She gave her supplies.

Her depleted supplies were asked to be given. "Bring me a little water and bread to eat," Elijah asked.


How do you think she felt at that moment? I can imagine that she felt:

Failure


Discouragement


Inadequacy


Lonely


Poor


Helpless


Fear


“And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first, make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward, make something for yourself and your son."


You hear no bitterness. But - you see a woman saying yes to her God. Friend, give what you have to the Lord. Don't let society say that you don't have enough to give. A woman living in faith gives of her supplies. She gave!


3. She lived with faith.

She had faith to obey. She had faith to give of what she had, and she had a faith to serve a stranger, a faith to trust God, a faith that embraced an invitation from God while she was simply picked up sticks.


Look at the results. Verse fifteen reads, "And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, nor did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

Look what God did through her!


Elijah was cared for physically because God had a mission for him.


She was used to support Elijah.


Her son was kept from starvation.


She had plenty of food to eat.


Her story had to have been told in her neighborhood. As females, we are good at sharing news! I hear her now shouting from the rooftops, "My son and I were as good as was dead - But God! My jar was empty, but now I have plenty!


I am encouraged by her faith thousands of years later. All because this simple unnamed woman - was a woman on mission for the Lord and said yes to God while she was picking up sticks.


All because this simple unnamed woman said yes to God while she was picking up sticks.

What about you?


What sticks are you picking up right now in your life? I don’t mean literal sticks, but you, too, have responsibilities tomorrow, and your hands are busy. What is in your hand? Perhaps tomorrow, you will be picking up little children. Then pause for the invitations from God to glorify Him. Look for those moments to teach and train. Love them well and point them to Jesus.

Maybe, your sticks will be to pick up someone’s mess at work, a project that needs your expertise or touch. There is no need to gossip. Instead, support, and help get the job done. Because when another sees your good attitude, they will want what you have. Then you will have an open door to share about the God who can change everything.


Perhaps, your stick is picking up groceries and dropping off some at that young mom's back door and telling her God loves her and you do too.


Maybe, you will be meeting someone at the park, and you thought it was just a play date for the kids, but you see that God has invited you to encourage the Mom with the good news. And you pick up her broken heart with His healing spirit.


Perhaps, your phone is your stick tomorrow - that friend you text needs you to show them Jesus through a prayer or a word.


Ladies, We exist - plain and simple as Christ's followers to glorify God. To make much of Him. To represent Him. To elevate Him as we live our life - in every detail.


My challenge for you is, while you are picking up your sticks, be a woman on mission that says yes to her God. A mission that is so much bigger than you. A mission that is good and Godly and hard and challenging but one that glorifies Him. Be a woman that exists to glorify God.


Be a woman who says yes while she is picking up sticks.









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