The Widow’s Portion: a Story of Faithfulness

There’s an old, old story.
You know the one.
The one about
the prophet who goes to a faraway land,
hungry and tired.
And God tells him to look for a woman with sticks,
and ask her for something to eat.
The woman appears,
sticks and all,
but this woman, she is at the end of it.
Exhausted, empty, endurance run out.

There will soon be no more oil, no more flour, no more life . . .
and this stranger — this strange man — this prophet
shows up and asks for the last of what she has.
“Make it for me,” he says.
Make that last loaf for me.
“If you do, there will be enough.
Enough for you.
Enough for your son.
Enough for us all.”

And she does it.
She trusts this strange man’s words.
She bakes the bread,
she gives it away,
and from that point until the end of the drought
that has nearly killed her,
her jug is never empty, her canister is always full.

We have a story like this in our family,
and my husband has asked me to tell it.
I’m not sure I’m up to the task,
but I’ll put fingers to keyboard and see what comes up on the screen.

Dick with Joy, 2 days old, December 4th, 1969. His uncle’s funeral was just days later.

It was the year our 2nd daughter was born that it happened.
And she was born on his birthday,
this brother to my mother-in-law,
this uncle to my husband.
A roofer by trade,
a good and kind man by habit,
he and his wife had raised four children,
and then followed their hearts to the beach.
They bought a beautiful mobile home,
perched on a cliff near the sea,
moved their youngest son and her father
in with them, and began to enjoy the good life.

Except no one told them the gas lines lay on fill dirt.
No one told them the earth might settle wrong.
No one told them an explosion would take his life
and change an entire family system in less than a week’s time.

Five years later, insurance settled,
and the widow, our aunt,
walked into my husband’s investment office,
slapped the less-than-sufficient check
down on his desk and said,
“I’m trusting you to make sure this is enough, okay?”

My husband was relatively new to the investing business back then,
learning all the time,
getting good at picking companies well.
But this?
It felt overwhelming.
This was all she had,
all she would live on for the rest of her life . . .
and she had given it to his care.

And so he prayed over that check.
And he asked for wisdom and grace and courage.
And he began to make choices,
careful choices,
good choices,
consistent choices.

She would come back every year or so and say,
“You know, one of my kids (or my dad or my friend — she was
that kind of person) is needing some help. I want to take a little
more out than I usually do, okay?”

And my husband would sigh inside,
wondering how long he could keep building something
when she kept unbuilding it.

One of many bridal showers from that era,
many of them held in that aunt’s home in Pasadena before their move to the beach.
(Can you find me? The young girls on the left are now parents to grownup kids.
Heck, the babe-in-arms has a daughter heading off to college soon.
Yeah. . . time marches on.)

He kept a close eye on this account —
it was far from the biggest one he ever managed,
but it was special.
Turned out, it was more than that —
it was remarkable.

For nearly 25 years,
he kept investing that money.
For nearly 25 years,
she kept giving it away.

And when she died . . .
when she died,
the amount in that fund —
after all the living
and all the giving —
on that day, that barely-sufficient fund was 15% higher
than it was on the day they began.

I don’t have any idea how many loaves of bread
that widow was able to make from the
day Elijah gave her that promise.
All I know is this:
for the three and a half years of the deadly drought,
there was enough to save their lives.

I do not begin to understand percentages, either.
All I know is this:
Over those almost 25 years,
our aunt took out three times the original amount,
and when she died, it was all.still.there.

The jar stayed full;
the canister never emptied.

Thanks be to God.

Joining this with Jennifer and Emily 

 

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Comments

  1. This made me smile and think, ‘That is so like my God!’ To care for and watch over all the little details in that story – all those investments Dick made, even the amount that the cheque was to start with. Your aunt must have been fearless (or had great faith) to even be able to think about giving away some of that money!
    A lovely story – and well told. 🙂

    • She was a fearless woman and a generous one, too. Over his nearly 40 years in the business, my husband invested a lot of money — for individuals, for families, for churches, for businesses. But this story is just about his favorite one. It was a tiny account, as such things go, but it was a miracle account and he loved doing it. Even in retirement, he is doing this for my mom, his mom, another aunt of his — tending the limited resources of older women who are widows. . . and watching God do God’s thing. Because we’re told over and over and over again in scripture that widows are close to God’s heart and WE are responsible to help them however we can.

  2. Thanks be to God indeed!!!! Fabulous story, Diana, and you told it beautifully. Perfectly.

  3. I love the sparse simplicity with which you told this.
    I’ve thought a lot about that widow’s story and tried from time to time to write about it, something about it so challenges our culture’s scarcity myths. A few drops of oil and a few crumbs are always, in God’s equation, more than enough.

    • Exactly. More than enough. It was a lovely story to live and it proved to be a lovely one to tell, too. Thanks for reading and commenting, Kelly.

  4. Oh how lovely this is, and how encouraged I am. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  5. Great story… Great God!! So glad you took the time to get this down. Beautiful testimony and legacy of faith and his faithfulness for us and your family. Hugs.

    • Thanks, Pat. It is a great story. . . just a little one, actually, but representative to me of how our faithfulness connects with God’s faithfulness and amazing things happen.

  6. My heart is still racing. What an amazing God! What faithful children of His! Your story is what God means when He tells us in His Word to tell everyone about the amazing things He has done. This is what God means when He says to be sure to pass these stories about Him from one generation to the next. You know I will share this with others! Bless you, Diana.
    Linda

    • Thanks so much for reading, Linda – and for sharing, too! God does God’s thing, in ways both dramatic and tiny and we are grateful.

  7. I love it that Dick prayed over that check and did the best he could. And God did the rest.

    And … you were up to the task. 🙂 You are a great wordsmith.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  8. How wonderful, Diana!

    She sounds like a woman my husband worked for, the one who was his best boss.

    • She was a great lady, interesting, active, talkative, highly intelligent and she loved her family and her husband’s family. We were blessed.

  9. Dear Dianna
    What a great story of our great God! I have also found in my life that we can never out give our Pappa! But we need to give away without an eye on a reward. I love the verse in Proverbs where Solomon says that he has never seen the children of those who are kind to the poor ever go hungry. So whenever I feel I need to help someone in need, I always say I am investing in my children’s future!
    Thank you so much for sharing and please give your dear husband an extra big hug on our behalf!
    Mia

  10. oh Diana. I LOVE these kinds of stories. they renew my faith so much. SO well written friend. brava. love you. e.

  11. This is an incredible story, Diana. It speaks to so many things, the faith of your aunt, the wisdom of your husband, and the incredible grace of God. We have a widow in our life right now that we have been called to help, and this is inspiring. Thanks so much.

  12. WOW – this is powerful !!!

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