The Rushmore Report: The Miracle of the Empty Jar


Camille Pissarro said, “Blessed are those who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” God does his best work in humble places where other people see nothing. A woman came to the old prophet Elisha, flat broke. All she had was a small jar of oil. Then God showed up. And what happened next is the template for the way He can bless you beyond measure.

The woman had become a widow in pre-Social Security days. She and her two boys were about to give themselves over to slavery as their only hope for survival. Elisha asked, “How can I help you? What do you have in your house?” The woman said she only had a small jar of olive oil.

Elisha told her to collect empty jars from her neighbors. “Don’t ask for just a few,” he told her. Then she was instructed to take the empty jars into her home and pour her little bit of oil into them. In the process, God multiplied the oil, and she was able to sell it and provide for her family, with oil left over.

One day in 1961 an American student – newly arrived in England to begin his postgraduate work – visited the well-known poet and critic T. S. Eliot. As the young man was leaving, Eliot sought to impart some sympathetic wisdom.

“Forty years ago I went from Harvard to Oxford,” he mused. “Now, what advice can I give you?”

The Nobel Prize winner eagerly waited for the student’s response. It finally came in the form of a question: “Have you any long underwear?”

God shows up in the little things. It is when we are content to ask for a little bit of oil – or as with the student in England, a pair of long underwear – that God amazes us the most.

Thomas Merton observed, “The real hope is not in something we think we can do, but in God, who is making something good out of it in some way we cannot see.”

Do you want a great blessing? If you are satisfied already, God is not for you. He majors in blessing the unblessed, filling the unfilled, and redeeming the unredeemable. F. B. Meyer said it like this: “We must get to an end of ourselves before He can begin in us.”

Your best days can be just ahead. It all starts with an empty jar.


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