Dear Multnomah Family Member,
You’re probably familiar with a certain miracle God did through Elijah in 1 Kings. But maybe, like me, it’s been a while since you’ve thought about the connection this story has to your life.
One day, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food” (1 Kings 17:8-9).
Zarephath was full of wicked idolaters and worshippers of Baal. The vile King Ahab was sovereign in the land. Furthermore, King Ahab was searching for Elijah so he could kill him.
For Elijah, God’s command was a real test of faith, and the prophet needed to learn this lesson quickly: To follow the Lord by faith is to do so without succumbing to the fear of the cost.
Elijah journeyed 100 miles to Zarephath, where he found a widow at the city gate. He asked her to bring him a little water and a piece of bread. Her response was heart-breaking: “As surely as the LORD your God lives, I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, so that we may eat it — and die” (1 Kings 17:12).
But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a loaf of bread for me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land’” (1 Kings 17:13-14).
The widow did as Elijah said, and the miracle took place: The flour and oil didn’t run out!
How often do we focus on the problem, rather than the Provider? This narrative is a great reminder to ask myself: Have I prayed about it as much as I’ve worried about it?
The beauty of this story is the faith required of both people involved. God told Elijah that a widow would be taking care of him. This was a fearful predicament, as widows were the first to die off in times of famine or drought. The situation was not unlike relying on a homeless person to provide for you.
The widow also faced a terrifying reality: God had commanded her to give away everything she had left to a perfect stranger — a fugitive. At face value, it seems like a cold-hearted request. But when asked to deny her basic instinct of self-preservation, she responded in faith — and her faith was rewarded with bounty.
This is the place our Father desires us to be. He longs for us to trust Him fully and walk by faith despite circumstances. Where are we today? Are we in a place of full surrender where we can truly give everything when we hear Him call?
Beloved, Multnomah is indeed hitting the marks. We finished the 2016 fiscal year well thanks to the faith and generosity of our supporters. Student enrollment is up. We’re launching a biology degree this fall. And for the last 12 years, Multnomah’s students have consistently scored significantly higher in reading comprehension and critical thinking than national averages of other universities.
At the same time, we hear the groans of our society call out for the return of Christ, whether they know it or not. As we witness U.S. shootings, terrorist killings across the globe, and the false promise of politicians as saviors, we know without a doubt: People still desperately need our Savior and King Jesus. Multnomah is responding by raising up Spirit-led men and women who fight injustice, cultivate peace and share the radiant message of Christ in a world filled with violence and turmoil. That’s why your generous gifts to Multnomah are needed now more than ever. Every gift, no matter how small, makes a difference. We invite you to participate however you can.
Secondly, we ask you to pray fervently every day. Can we stand together and pray as Multnomah trains men and women who will impact the world for Jesus? Pray for God to grow our faith so our offerings to Him will be multiplied for all eternity. Pray for us all to have faith like Elijah and the widow. Let us come together and put our full trust in God.
Growing in faith,
Dr. G. Craig Williford