“Shut the door! You’re going to let the flies in!”
With the screened back door constantly slamming behind us as we were in and out playing with friends during the warm summer months, Mom was always reminding us to keep the door shut because she didn’t want the pesky winged insects buzzing around indoors. When we lingered too long at the doorway, the vermin found their way in.
The widow we find in 2 Kings 4 had much bigger problems than nasty old flies. Her husband had left her with a large debt and the creditor was calling it in. Left with no resources with which to pay the debt and the creditor en route to take her sons as slaves to work it off, she turned to the prophet Elisha.
“Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. (2 Kings 4:2-5)
“Shut the door.” Seemingly simple, insignificant words; however, this woman didn’t want to get it wrong. She wanted direction, an answer, and results from the man of God, and she did precisely as she was told.
The woman didn’t go seeking opinions of her friends and neighbors about how she could get around paying this debt. She didn’t entertain thoughts of how she could scam the creditor. She didn’t put her hand out for government assistance because she was a victim of circumstances. The consequences of seeking a dishonorable exit from her dilemma would linger far longer than the 28-day lifespan of a housefly, and she didn’t need a heart infested with blame, shame, and even more distress!
She didn’t allow those filthy, disgusting flies entry into the sacred space where God would reveal His power.
Stepping through the passageway from hopeless desperation into the private sanctuary of her home, without the distraction of curious onlookers or nosy neighbors swarming about her, she entered the province of God’s domain and experienced the compassion and provision of the Living God.
They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” (2 Kings 4:5-7)
God knew the widow’s heart before she acted upon the directions, proving herself to be obedient, and He also knew I would need to read about it someday, because me — well, I can be rebellious and disobedient.
The impression on my heart that a major change was necessary in my life plagued me daily until I could no longer bear it. Following directions to ready myself for the change, I did my homework, exploring each open doorway as it presented itself. I did everything I could, so far as it mattered on my part, to follow each step appropriately. I prayed that God would open the right doors and shut the ones I wasn’t to enter, and as far as I could see, the path became clear.
There was just one fly in the ointment … one annoying, distracting pest that made it through the screen door because I lingered at the door far too long. I allowed someone to influence me and it drew me away from the desired destination. I failed to follow the widow’s lead. With the fly constantly buzzing around my head, I was distracted when I should have rolled up a newspaper and smacked that fly into oblivion! Instead, I tried to go through a side door.
God is there with me in the detour and He’s mapping out the re-route, but He would have much rather seen obedience from me.
How bad do you want that answer? Do you want it on your terms or God’s? Are you going to wait until circumstances are so dire before you ask for God’s help? Why not start now? Practice obedience and listen. Then remove the distractions and follow His instructions step by step.
Oh … and shut the door behind you.
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Pam Weyant recently traded the harsh Midwestern winters for the sunny South. When she is not spending her time as a freelance court reporter, you will find her loving up her adorable cocker spaniel, hiking, traveling, writing creative nonfiction, or working out. Her passion is sharing her story so others can join her in celebrating the freedom found in a redemptive Savior.