There are few things more satisfying than the sight of a full refrigerator. There is a comfort in knowing that whenever hunger strikes, you have plenty of food and a plethora of options. However, I recently determined that staring at my refrigerator’s bare shelves can be gratifying in another way.
Over the last few weeks, my contempt of grocery shopping and attempts to cut back on spending caused me to do some creative digging in the fridge. I ran out of fresh fruit and realized I had frozen strawberries to mix into my yogurt. No pre-cooked chicken breast for salad? No problem, I defrosted and cooked chicken cutlets that were sitting in the freezer for months. Not enough spinach spaghetti? Apparently it mixes with whole wheat pasta just fine.
None of these are spectacular culinary creations. However, that is precisely the point. Sometimes our view is so limited by the way we have always used things that we fail to notice the opportunities staring us in the face. It takes a deliberate effort to work with what you already have to realize that you often don’t need more so much as you need a change in perspective.
I am not the first woman to have such an epiphany. In 2 Kings 4:1-7 , the prophet Elisha meets a woman who is in dire straits. She is not only widowed, but her husband’s creditors are planning to take her two sons into slavery as payment for his debts.
Elisha’s response is, “What do you have in your house?” In other words, what do you already have that you can use to your advantage? She says she has “nothing there at all,” just “a small jar of olive oil.”
Elisha tells the widow to collect several empty jars from her neighbors, take them to her home, and pour all the oil she has into them. She does as she is told and is pleasantly surprised to see her small jar of oil miraculously fill jar after jar. The Bible says the oil did not stop flowing until it filled all of the empty jars she had collected.
Who knew the solution to the widow’s problems was in her very own house? She was able to sell the jars of oil and her proceeds not only paid off her debts, but left her with money to live off of as well.
Like the widow, I find myself entering a new season of life. My inclination is to search high and low around town for solutions to my problems.
However, my refrigerator and the widow’s bare cupboards have reminded me that maybe I need to start by looking within my house.
Understanding that God has placed many things inside of me – some which I have misclassified as “nothing at all” – my prayer in this season is that I would recognize them for the treasures they are and convert them into something that meets my needs. I want to have the wisdom and dedication to use what I have to get what I want.
I wonder how often God shakes His head as we ask for things that we already have.
We need money and He asks, “What have you done with the talents and gifts I have placed inside of you?”
We want purpose and He responds, “Look at the needs of your neighbors.”
We beg for love and He points to the obvious: “Look at the circle of people surrounding you.”
He dares us to pour what we already have into the depleted areas of our lives and see if they don’t begin to overflow.
What do you already have in your possession that God is waiting to multiply, if only you would place it in His hands and seek His guidance on how to put it to good use?
Maybe it’s time to take a long, hard look within. What seemingly small thing do you already have that might actually be a miracle lying idle?
It is worth asking the question and doing the digging. Not just because you want God to refill what you have emptied.
More importantly, when this life is over, I want to stand before God and have Him look at me with the same satisfaction I have when looking at an empty refrigerator these days.
I know the guilt of throwing out wilted spinach that I never bothered to cook, and I don’t want to feel a greater shame trying to account for unused gifts and spoiled talents that I never got around to using in my lifetime.
I want to be able to say that I used all that God put into me. I want Him to agree that nothing was wasted. I want Him to smile and say, “Well done.”