Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Do You Have In Your House?

It's always fun to get reacquainted with a favorite Bible story!  In Second Kings, chapter four Elisha is approached by a widow whose husband was in the Prophet Guild.  Her husband had just died, she was left with a mountain of debt and the individuals were coming to collect and she had nothing to give them!  Now if that isn't a story that people can relate to today!  You could substitute I've lost my job and they are coming to foreclose on the house and you have a modern day parallel! 

It was a desperate time for this woman!  The outlook was bleak.  I imagine she felt very cold, very gray, but she had a little hope-a little blue sky!  She would go and talk to the great Prophet Elisha!  Surely he would know what to do!

Now Elisha could have listened and said "wow, that's sad, I'll pray for you."  Instead he asked "what do you have in your house?"  The widow said "nothing, oh wait, I do have some oil."  Ah ha!  Here was a way that Elisha could help her help herself.  He told her to go and get all the jugs she could lay her hands on and pour the oil in to them.  The oil didn't stop running until she ran out of jugs.  When she came back to him and told him, he said "go and sell the oil, pay off the debt and live off the rest."  The widow already had what she needed but she was so overwhelmed by the problem that she needed somebody else to point out the solution! 

Modern day life!  The problems come fast and furious, the domino effect kicks in, you go from one crisis to another and you are so busy dealing that you can't stop and think!  How can it possibly get better, you wonder, even if it is only to yourself!  You want to hang on to that blue sky hope but the storm clouds are closing in around you! 

Here's a thought, stick with me-there is a method to my madness!  What do you have in your house?  I'm not talking physically (although that is a possibility).  I'm talking figuratively.  I'm talking about that creative spark of imagination that lives within you!  What idea lives inside of you, that has been right in front of you that you haven't done anything with but could get you out of the rut of living crisis to crisis and instead live in abundance and blessing? 

Pie in the sky you say?  Let me tell you about my hometown of Waterbury, Vermont.  Back in the late 70's/early 80's Waterbury was considered a bedroom community.  You slept there but you worked elsewhere, usually in manufacturing.   About that time "outsourcing" came in to vogue and suddenly those jobs disappeared as the corporations decided to move manufacturing elsewhere in order to up corporate profits.  "Down sizing" also became an oft quoted buzz word as well.  There was a figurative sucking sound as peoples livelihoods went down the corporate drain!  Main street started looking pretty empty and people started moving away to find jobs.  Gloomy would be an understatement! 

There were some individuals though who had some ideas that were just crazy enough that they might just work!  Why not try to court some small businesses and see if they would be willing to come to town?  And while they were at it, why not come up with some ways for the community to celebrate and have fun together?  Waterbury always did fireworks on the fourth but how about having a parade and including the elementary school marching band?  Why not use the newly rehabbed park during the worst time in winter and have a friendly winter croquette tournament?  And why not see if those quirky crunchy granola guys by the names of Ben and Jerry might like to come to town?  And while they were at it, why not see if there was some way to help that gourmet coffee guy and the boat captain's wife running the cider mill expand? 

Long story short, Ben and Jerry's did come to town, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Cold Hollow Cider Mill did expand, a lot of small businesses were started because there was community support. Waterbury became a place that you wanted to be because there was always something going on in town!  Wednesday night Farmer's market with a free concert so you could picnic in the park with your family.  Historical Society lectures at the local library.  In the winter there was Cabin Fever Follies at the elementary school and the now famous Winter Croquette tournament in the park.  Throw in the church dinners and events and you had a local calender of events section in the newspaper full to the brim!  Waterbury was not alone in this pro-active approach, there were many other towns that did very similar things! 

Did every venture succeed?  No.  However, many did thrive and grow.  The overall moral of the story here is that the community took a look at what they had and decided to celebrate the unique and the quirky-the things that made life interesting!  In doing so they brought a sense of togetherness and hope and vitality.  It wasn't easy, there was a lot of planning and hard work involved.  Good ideas require planning and hard work! 

Whether you are a church leader, community leader or an individual I think it is well worth asking the question that Elisha asked the widow.  Take a deep breath and then ask yourself, what do I have in my house?  Be creative and look at the things around you with a new set of eyes!  Then get to work, because you have a lot of jugs to fill!

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