In our nine-week Bible Study, Navigating Your Finances God’s Way, we read in 2 Kings 4:1-7 about a widow who is about to lose her two sons to slavery due to her dead husband’s unpaid debts. She seeks the wisdom of Elisha who tells her to gather as many jars as she can from her neighbors. She is then to take the small amount of oil that she has in her jar at home and use that to fill the jars she has gathered from her neighbors. Once she has filled all the jars, she is to go and sell the oil in order to pay off her debts. He assures her that if she sells all the jars of oil, not only will there be enough to pay all the debts, but there will be money left over for her and her sons to live on.
After studying this passage, I was reminded of my Grandma. At the end of this month, my Grandma would have turned 99 years old. Unfortunately she passed away four years ago, two days shy of her 95th birthday. She was an inspiration to me and an amazing steward, which is why I’d like to share a few things about her here.
My Grandma was a farmer’s wife and mother to thirteen children. This probably conjures up images of poverty and that would be accurate because they were rather poor. But, that didn’t matter. Let’s just say that the farm was not a dull place! There was always food on the table because my Grandma was an avid gardener and my Grandpa was a dairy farmer. I remember warm milk coming to the table straight from “Bessie the Cow” at breakfast. At one point they had hundreds of chickens and Grandpa would take the eggs to town in exchange for staples at the grocery store.
My Grandpa passed away when he was only 62 years old, leaving my Grandma a widow with three children still at home. Yet, she did not have to go out to find a job. In fact, my Grandma’s only job ever was taking care of her home and her family. My Grandma lived independently for 32 years after my Grandpa died and never worked a day outside the home.
When I read the story of the widow in the Bible, it reminded me of my Grandma because our family did something very similar. After learning that Grandpa had cancer, my uncles held an auction and sold all of Grandpa’s farm equipment, cattle, pigs, and even the farm itself. They found a home in town where Grandma, Grandpa and the three youngest children could live and finish school. Grandpa passed away shortly after that, but Grandma lived in that house for about 25 years before moving to something a little smaller and easier for her to care for on her own. She lived there by herself, although never alone, until she passed away four years ago.
The passage in the Bible about the widow should speak volumes to us even today. Have we ever felt shackled by our debt? What about the imagery that our children could also be enslaved by our debts? Can we even imagine that today? Do we take our unpaid debt seriously? What would that give us the motivation we need to pay everything off?
Let us never be enslaved by our debts. Seek good counsel, use God’s wisdom, and trust that, even if it seems like it won’t be enough, God will provide.
“Go and sell the oil and pay your debt, and there will be enough money left for you and your sons to live on!” 2 Kings 4:7