Recently, my husband and I attended an event that began at noon. That’s right, lunchtime! A college professor was the keynote speaker and I fervently prayed she would be brief. It seemed too much to hope she would also be relevant.
Much to my surprise, she was brief, relevant and encouraging to boot! In the audience were over 100 African American female college freshmen, all of whom had a 3.5 or greater grade point average! (That’s a post for another day.) Family and friends were there to witness and celebrate their induction into the freshman honor society.
The professor’s topic was ‘Y’all Finished or Y’all Done?’ She humorously related to the young women what it was like for her at the end of the first year of college. She had been in their shoes – attending that same school. She recalled a certain professor who apparently delighted in loading the class with assignments.
She spoke of all the tests, quizzes, papers and projects – all seemingly due at the same time. She understood how daunting it is and that they would begin to wonder whether they could make it through to the end. And, she did not mince words when reminding them – this was only the beginning.
Finally, she challenged them to push past done. All the way to the end. And finish. Even when all they wanted was to just be done! Finished meant staying up late to complete the assignments. Done meant giving in to the frustration and fatigue.
Can’t you just picture arms raised in victory when we finish,
and arms thrown up in defeat when we are done?
Finished or done? That’s what came to mind as I read the story of the widow who came to the prophet Elisha for help. Her husband was dead and his creditors wanted to take her sons as slaves. That would leave her with no one to care for her. She could see no way out of her current situation.
Elisha asked her what she had in her house. She replied, “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Nothing at all, the widow said. Sounds like she was done. But Elisha said,
“Go up and down the street and borrow jugs and bowls from all your neighbors. And not just a few—all you can get. Then come home and lock the door behind you, you and your sons. Pour oil into each container; when each is full, set it aside.”
She did what he said. She locked the door behind her and her sons; as they brought the containers to her, she filled them. When all the jugs and bowls were full, she said to one of her sons, “Another jug, please.” He said, “That’s it. There are no more jugs.”
Then the oil stopped. 2 Kings 4:3-6 MSG
Often, when the situation becomes dire in our minds, we want to give up and throw in the towel. And just be done. But here’s what we can learn from the widow.
First, when you are at the end of all you know to do, seek help from someone wise. Second, and most important, do what the wise person says do. Ask all the neighbors, not just the most convenient ones. Get all the jugs and bowls you can – not just the one’s you can carry in one trip. Keep pouring the oil – until it is finished.
Rest when you must. Get help when you need it. But don’t quit when you’re done. Stop when you finish.
Hey there friend! Andrea McCaskey here. I believe everything happens for a reason, life is meant to be lived in relationship with others and there is beauty to be found everywhere if we look. I am a friend of God, wife of Jamal and mother of Brandon and Madison.
To read more of Andrea’s Breath on Paper bio, click here.