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The size of our Faith determines the size of the Miracle

Blog -> Bible

And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stopped flowing. (2 Kings 4:6)

All of us want to receive God's blessing. Some of us for slefish reasons (God, give me a big house, a cool car and enough money so I can take my whole family across the ocean for vacation at least three times every year). Others ask for material blessings so that they can bless others. And again others ask for more eternal blessings, e.g. they ask for the Fruit of the Spirit to be developed in their lives. But all of us want to be blessed by God.

And of course it's God's desire to bless us. He wants us to live great lives in this world. Think of Solomon and the wealth he received. Think of Job, once he passed the test. God's desire is to bless us all in one way or the other. Not necessarily always financially. But He does want to bless us and give things to us to give us fullness of life.

Now most people want that. Many people pray for that, asking God to bless them. But many forget that we have a part to play: Faith.

Here's where the story of 2 Kings 4 comes in. Let me just give you a summary. A widow is unable to repay her debts and she's about to be taken into slavery, along with her two sons. So she cries out to the prophet Elisha for help. Elisha tells her: "Borrow vessels from everywhere, as many as you can get." She does that. Then Elisha tells her: "Take the little bit of oil that you still have and pour it into the empty vessels." The oil gets miraculously multiplied, all the vessels are filled. The woman can pay her debts with the oil. She and her family are freed.

No the thing that stood out to me when reading this parable was when the oil stopped. I imagine if I were that woman. She had to go through the process of going to all her neighbors, gathering as many vessels as possible. Once she could not find any more vessels, she started pouring the oil. But not before that. 

I was trying to imagine what she told her neighbors. Must have been some interesting conversations. "Hey neighbor, can I borrow some of your vessels? I don't know if I really need it. I don't really understand why I need it. It's just that this prophet told me to get as many as I can. And yes, I'll be careful not to break them. And yes, I'll bring them back. Maybe in 1 hour. Maybe later. Don't know. Depends on whether what that prophet told me really works. I sure hope it does." A huge step of faith. Sure she felt silly in the process.

If I imagine being that woman, I would probably have done something differently. I would have responded something like this: "Elisha, wait a minute. I'm not going to gather all these vessels from my neighbors without knowing what to do with them. So you tell me what you want me to do with them. ... You want me to what? You want me to fill all these vessels with the little oil I have? Ahm,... I know you are a prophet, not a scientist. But that's not going to work....." If he insists I would probably have replied: "OK, I'm going to get one vessel. And then, if it actually works, I'm going to get more. But I'm not going to gather all the vessels without any guarantee that it actually works. What would my neighbors think?"

But remember what happened in the story? The flow of oil stopped the moment the last vessel was filled. Not a moment sooner, but also not a moment later.

I often wondered: If the woman had taken my approach (Let's try this with one vessel first), what would have happened? I would guess that the oil would have stopped earlier. The number of vessels that the woman brought in faith determined the size of the miracle. Small vessels -> Small miracle. Many huge vessels -> A huge miracle.

I picked up a short story from the movie "Facing the Giants" that basically has the same message. It goes something like this: "There were two farmers. Both of them prayed for rain. But only one of them went out and prepared his field. Which of them had greater faith?" And of course the consequence of that: "Which of these farmers will receive the greater blessing when the rain actually comes?" Simple answer.

I don't know about you, but I have this tendency to play my Christian Faith safe. "OK, so if God really tells me to do THIS, then let me first try whether this actually works. And then, if God does something the first time, when I 'try it out', then I know I can go all in the second time."

However, sometimes we won't have a second time. Because "trying out first" is a sign of unbelief. And the size of our faith determines the size of the miracle.

For example: I feel that God is leading me to give a talk to our church about a certain topic. But I'm not sure if it's really God. So I talk with a lot of people individually first, whether they would be interested. By the time I've gathered enough feedback and feel that "this talk might actually work" I might have missed God's timing. Lack of faith leads to missed blessing.

Another example: Money. While we're good at planning and budgeting financially, it does happen that God asks us to do things that we didn't expect. For example, a spontaneous opportunity to buy something nice. Too often I do A LOT of calculations whether we can afford, what the long term consequences of such a purchase would be. And sometimes I miss out. Because by the time I'm done with my calculations, the opportunity isn't available anymore. And then, a few days later, God blesses us with a financial gift, and I have to admit: "You know, if I had known about this gift, I would have made the purchase two weeks ago. But I didn't have enough Faith to go ahead, even though I felt He was telling me to go ahead with the purchase." Small faith - > missed blessing 

Let me give you one example when we got it right. In 2010 my family and I were going through a big transition. We knew that our lifestyle wouldn't be sustainable on the longterm. We had enough food and a place to stay. But kids were growing, house was small, income was low, we didn't have medical insurance, we lived in a foreign country. So we knew: Something has to happen. Soon. Otherwise we'll have a problem.

For many months there was this tension: We can't live like this for long, but we feel God is telling us to stay and trust Him, wait for Him to do something. It was difficult and painful. But we trusted God, acted on our Faith and stayed where we were.

After around half a year in this difficult spot. God miraculously opened the door for us to join the Church staff and we suddenly had a much higher income, a wonderful house to live in, medical insurance, etc. Everything we were praying about was just handed to us in this one single act: God miraculously gave us a new job.

Big Faith leads to a big size miracle.

Yes, God wants to bless us. And yes, there's nothing wrong with asking for blessings (as long as it is in balance with other aspects of prayer, like adoration, repentance, etc). But we always have to remember: Just praying isn't always enough. God asks us to trust Him. The woman in 2 Kings Chapter 4 had to bring all the empty vessels in Faith. The farmer in the story above had to prepare his field while there was no indication of rain. We had to trust God and live in humble circumstances, trusting that He will provide for us eventually.

Not sure what blessing you are asking of God right now. And I don't know whether you are asking within God's will. But if you are, make sure that you also do your part: Have Faith, and put your Faith into action while you are still waiting for the miracle to come through. And see what God will do. 

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