Sandra Bullock & 2 Important Questions to Tether You

A few years ago I felt like Sandra Bullock in Gravity – untethered, and floating in space.

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We had just returned from a five month sabbatical and I was clueless about how the next season of my life would look.  What was my “place”?  Who was my “tribe”?  Was there anywhere God could use me to add value?

The answers seemed to be “nowhere”, “no-one”, and “nowhere” (again).

Maybe your circumstances are different, but you can relate.  You’re “in transition” (that horrible euphemism for “in a place that feels scary and directionless”). Or maybe you’re just feeling unsettled and under-utilized.

So I prayed.  And I prayed.  And I prayed.  And by that I mean I yelled at God a lot.

And once in awhile between my rants I tried to listen for His whispers.

And when I did, here’s what God said.  “Use the flour and oil I’ve already given you.”

Ok, it went a little different than that, but that was the bottom line.

And actually, God didn’t whisper, it was more like He shouted with clarity through the account of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath.

You remember that story in 1 Kings 17 when God sends Elijah to the widow telling him she’ll supply him with food, but when he arrives and asks for a meal she tells him all she has is a handful of flour and a little oil that she was going to use to make one last meal for her and her son before they die.

Elijah says, no problem, just start baking “from what you have” and God will make it enough.  And yep, “there was food for every day.”  “The jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry.”

So here are two questions I’ve been trying to answer each day:

1.  What’s your flour and oil?  Don’t focus on your nothing, focus on your something.  How often do you rehearse a list in your head that goes something like, “I don’t have…the right degree, an invitation, enough experience, contacts, a husband, money…”

Instead, identify the flour and oil (however small that may seem) that God has put in your hands.  It might be a relationship, or words, or a home, or information, or a car or a flexible schedule, or a pot of soup or an idea…

2.  What are you going to do with it today?  The flour and oil plan can seem fuzzy and uncomfortable, but that’s ok.  The good part of feeling out of control is that you have to trust God and lean into Him.  Like “Ok God, this is Your gig so I’m counting on You to show up and show me what I’ve got and how You want me to use it.  And BTW I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box so please make it clear.”

And maybe your flour and oil and what God wants to do with it has nothing to do with your “official” day job.

Four years later, I still don’t have a “real” job.  I don’t have a job title and I fumble and mumble when people ask what I do.  I just have a little flour and oil but God makes that enough.  Everyday.

Only God could come up with a crazy job description of kingdom capers that may  include launching a cakes for kids ministry at an inner-city tutoring center, helping create a live nativity, and being part of a movement to stop human trafficking among other things.  But that’s what He seems to be doing with His flour and oil plan.

You don’t need a snazzy title to define you or make you ok.  You don’t need power or applause or clarity (although all of those are really nice and tempting to hold onto!)  Part of the excitement of the journey is watching God take our ordinary selves and make something extraordinary that could only be Him at work.

God takes what we have and makes it more.  More than enough.

In what ways has God surprised you with what He can do with your “flour and oil”?

This is an edited repost from 2012.

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8 Comments

  1. This is so awesome and encouraging–yes, “transition” funky place to be in, but maybe already recognizing that is half the funk gone. Thanks for the reminder that our Dad is one who turns 5 loaves and 2 fish into a Feast for 5,000. Martha never had anything to worry about…
    Love from Holland,
    Jasmine
    (also doing/trying the #Write 31 Days Challenge , with “Wild Kids, Wild God-31 Days Looking into God’s Heart”)
    *ps-thanks for showing me that there are no rules with blogging! (aside from kindness that is) 😉

  2. I so needed to hear the ‘flour and oil’ story today. I am in the most daunting transition of my life. Turning 65, just returning to the states after 15+ years of full time ministry in Europe. Now a new city, new state, feeling like a foreigner in my passport country, knowing only two people in my city- my 2 kids. Think about it, the year I left the states Clinton was president and then Bush became president. Now I’m witnessing another Clinton/Bush scenario. Throw Trump into the mix. What has happened while I have been away? It’s all very confusing but I need to keep my eyes on Jesus and believe the flour and oil will last forever. Thanks.

    • I can’t imagine all the changes you’re facing! I pray you will quickly find community and places to offer your amazing flour and oil!

  3. Laura – You fill my cup with every post! Your profound wisdom and words among an array of amazing gifts surpass any worldly title! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Thanks Laura! Just what I needed to hear!

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