31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
October 30, 2016
1 Kings 17:1-16
2 Corinthians 9:7-8
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Tomorrow night, children all over our country will dress up in costumes and go door-to-door saying “Trick or Treat”. Tonight, those same children will go to sleep dreaming of the mounds and mounds of candy they hope to get.
In expectation of all of those treats, some children will carry the traditional pumpkin; others a paper or plastic bag; and the ones with really high expectations will be carrying pillow cases.
As a kid, I always dreamed of dragging home an overfilled trick or treat bag. What kid doesn’t want to visit one more house and one more after that to get more candy, and yet, I also remember dumping my haul out onto the family room rug and marveling at how much there was.
Enough. How much is enough? How can we trust that we will have enough?
These are questions that our passage from 1 Kings addresses. The prophet Elijah has been speaking against the king of Israel and his queen, Jezebel. The queen has converted her husband and his people to follow her god, Baal, and in return, God has promised to visit a drought upon Israel for their unfaithfulness.
But the Lord provides for the prophet Elijah, directing him to travel 30 miles to the Wadi Cherith, a small stream in Eastern Israel. God commands the ravens, a most unexpected instrument of God because they are scavengers and unclean/non-Kosher animals, still, God uses the ravens to provide Elijah with bread and meat.
In time though, the drought has its affect on this little stream, and the water dries up. God continues to provide for Elijah by sending him 60 miles north to Zarephath. God chooses another unlikely instrument, a woman from the same people and territory as Queen Jezebel. We can easily assume the widow is also a worshipper of Baal. But when Elijah tells her to ‘not be afraid’ and to use the last of her meal and oil to make him a cake, the widow trusts and does as Elijah says.
The widow trusts that God will provide for them; the widow trusts that, “the jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail.” (1 Kings 17:14)
‘Will not be emptied’. It’s not the same as saying they will be full, but will it be enough?
Enough. How much is enough?
How much insurance is enough? How much money in the bank is enough? How much Halloween candy is enough?
How much is enough?
As people of faith, it’s a question we need to ask ourselves. How much of a house do we need? How many cars? How many pairs of shoes or TV channels? How much do we really need?
We live in a country of such abundance that picking a spaghetti sauce overwhelms me, and don’t even get me started on toothpastes. We live in a country where there are more storage units than there are McDonalds and Starbucks, combined, twice the amount of McDonalds and Starbucks combined.
The abundance of our country can skew our perception of what is enough. So as people of faith, we need to ask ourselves, how much is enough? How much do we need to hold on to? Save? Keep for ourselves?
And how much can we share with others? Share because we know God will provide for us.
It’s a question of trust. It’s a question of faith. As the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, do we trust that God will provide us with every blessing in abundance? Do we have faith that God will give us enough? (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)
When we have that kind of faith, when we trust in God that much, it changes who we are. It changes how we feel. It changes the way we see the world.
It affects our decisions about how much we feel we need to hold on to and how much we know we can give away.
With a faith that strong, we are not afraid to talk about tithing and sacrificial giving because we know God will take care of us, always giving us enough.
Elijah had that kind of faith when he followed God’s call and traveled 30 miles to the wadi. And when the stream dried up, Elijah trusted in God’s plan again and traveled 60 more. Over and over and over again, Elijah trusted God, trusted God to provide, and while the instruments God chose, ravens and a foreign widow, were quite unexpected, over and over and over again, God did provide.
And there was always enough.