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One of my favorite stories from the Old Testament is the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. (1 Kings 17: 7-24) Elijah the prophet of God is sitting by a brook that had dried up since there had been “no rain in the land.” Elijah had been led to the brook by the Lord who was feeding him daily by means of the brook and the ravens who brought him food. Doubtless the fact that the brook had now dried up was of concern to Elijah. Nevertheless, he waited patiently on the Lord. The Lord came to Elijah and told him to go to the town of Zeraphath to the house of a widow. There, the Lord told Elijah, he would find food and drink since He had “commanded” the widow to provide it.

Elijah picked himself up, dusted off his cloak and followed the divine instructions. Reaching the town he connected with the widow who was searching for fuel with which to make her meal. Elijah asked her for food and drink. Being poor, destitute and herself about to perish from lack of both, she responds by telling him that all she has left is enough flour to bake a loaf of bread for herself and her son. After that she was sure that they would perish for lack of any more food. Elijah assures her that “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.” Although skeptical, the widow complies and prepares a meal for the prophet. She prepares a meal for herself and her son as well. Ultimately, the prophet’s words hold true and neither the flour nor the oil runs out until rain returns to the land. Elijah, the widow and her son are fed on a promise--that the bin would remain bottomless.

I like this story not only because it appeals to my faith, it also appeals to my curiosity. What must it have been like to wake up each morning, peer into the bin and see the flour level amazingly the same, morning after morning. What a thrill it must have been to consume the bread made with the endless flour and wellspring of oil. Each bite must have seemed like you were consuming a miracle. And, appealing to my human condition of always looking to find something for nothing, my imagination is piqued. I can easily fantasize how remarkable it would be to transfer such bounty from the widow and her son to my life. Wouldn’t it be grand to be able to “go to the bin” daily and pull out just enough cash to pay the bills? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to lift that lid and discover that the scrumptious meal we shared together as a family yesterday was freshly preserved and waiting for consumption today? In general, wouldn’t it be great to have some never-ending source of anything -- A’s on assignments, product rebates, birthday greetings, even a water softener that never ran out of salt?

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