Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Give us this our daily bread

It's hard to believe that the first month of 2011 is over. So, today we began the month of February. One way to look at the way we mark time, whether by the Gregorian calendar or the liturgical calendar, is that we have many opportunities for new beginnings. I think the month of January for many people is often disastrous because of all the New Year's resolutions they heap on themselves. Maybe February is the month of recovery from our self-imposed tyranny. Appropriately, most years Lent begins in February, though not this year, due Easter arriving quite late (24 April).

Here in Utah February is very possibly the coldest, deadest month of the year, at least in terms of what goes on outside. For example, our high today will not top 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) and it will not snow. No sooner than I start being affected by all of this we'll have a sunny, relatively warm day, a day that reminds me Spring will come. Of course, the parallel to this obvious; it is a sign of something more than Spring. It is also a reminder that God gives us what we need, most often not in dramatic fashion, but in a quiet, steady way.

These thoughts put me mind of the episode in 1 Kings 17, in which Elijah goes to stay with the widow of Zarephath during a famine caused by a severe drought. When the prophet tells the widow, who barely has enough to feed herself and her son, to feed him, too, she protests, saying, "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" (verse 12- ESV). Elijah responds: "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'" (verses 13-14- ESV).

The widow did what Elijah told her to do and as a result "she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty" (verses 15-16- ESV). There are plenty of things to point to in this story, lessons, as it were, but for me today the obvious thing is that God is faithful to His promise. The woman did not wake up the next morning to find her larder filled to overflowing with oil and flour (what good would that do?), but everyday there was enough for her, her son (who soon died and was raised from the dead by Elijah), and for her guest, the prophet.

I suppose an alternate title of this post could've been "Bake Me a Cake as Fast as You Can", in which case it would need to be rolled, poked, and marked with an "E" and thrown in the oven for Elijah and me!

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