On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 59: Giving Your All: Part 1

“As the LORD the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word” (1 Kings 17:1 RSV)

As a result of King Ahab’s continuing rebellion against God, the Holy Prophet Elias, by the power of God, announced a severe drought to fall on all the land. Sometime thereafter, St. Elias is sent by God to visit a poor widow. She is collecting sticks to build a fire, so that she can build a fire. On that fire she will cook a cake from the last of the meal she has in her storehouse. She and her son, she says, will eat this cake, and then wait to die. There was no more food. There was no more water.

The Holy Saint arrived on the very day that the widow had made the decision to give up the struggle to stay alive. When St. Elias arrived he asked the widow for food and drink. She replied, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a cruse; 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” (1 Kings 17:12 RSV). Yet the poor widow made the cake for the Saint, and gave of the last of her water.

No doubt the widow was accustomed to serving strangers and travelers, as this was the custom of the desert-dwelling people. Yet now, regardless of the suffering that might result from this kindness, she trusted the words of the Holy Prophet: “Fear not; …for thus says the LORD the God of Israel, ‘The jar of meal shall not be spent, and the cruse of oil shall not fail, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth’” (1 Kings 17:13-14 RSV). The widow shared her last food and drink with the stranger. In return, her life and that of her son were preserved. “…she, and he, and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not spent, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD…” (1 Kings 17:15-16).

Giving of one’s all is purely a matter of trust. How much do we trust God to provide? How much do we trust God over our own judgment of what we need (or more likely) what we want? It may be our longstanding custom to go to church, the read the Fathers and the Scriptures, to pray daily – but how does this translate into trusting God to provide while we work to provide for the needs of others?

God does not change. His love and providence were present at creation. His love and providence were present at the death and Resurrection of Christ. His love and providence are present no less now than in the days of Elijah.

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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