To Reuben, Grandmother’s story was an inspiration.
Looking back, I can remember running, running, running, as fast as my legs could carry me over the rock-strewn fields. Then bursting into the peaceful dwelling of my ancient grandmother and throwing myself into her arms.
Her gentle hands brushed the hair back from my forehead. “And what is it that brings little Reuben to my side with the speed of an arrow?”
“I have finished taking the water to the men in the fields, and mother said I may come to you for a story.”
“It is a story you want, then?” She smiled at me gently, and then added knowingly, “A certain story, perhaps?”
“Yes,” I nodded vigorously. “I want to hear about the time the meal and the oil didn’t run
out.” I could scarcely wait for her to begin the tale, for though I knew it by heart, I never tired of hearing how God had worked a miracle for her.
“Times were very hard,” she began, putting an arm around me and pulling me close to her side. “There had been no rain in all of our land for many, many months. The ground was hard and dry, and all the beautiful green plants and trees were dried up and withered.
“The streams and brooks which supplied our land with water had dried up. Water was as precious as gold, and so was food. Day by day, I watched our little bit of food grow smaller. Your father was a small lad, just about your size, Reuben. How my heart ached as I watched him grow thinner and thinner. I gave him a portion of my food, but still it was not enough and he grew very weak.
“At last the day came when I looked into the meal barrel and my pot of oil and saw that there was only enough for one small cake. That was the last food in the house, and I knew that after we ate that, we would die.
“How my heart ached as I went out that morning to gather a few sticks for the fire. Had God forsaken us? My trust was in Him, but I could see no help for us.
“But, Reuben, you must remember that our God makes no mistakes. Our faith was being tried, but in His great love, He had a plan to take care of us. As I gathered sticks, a man came walking along the dusty road. He called to me, asking for a drink.
“Water was as scarce as food, but as I looked at that tired, dusty man, I saw that he also had a need. I turned toward the house, and as I did so, he asked me to bring him a morsel of bread also.
“If it had only been myself to consider, I would not have hesitated. But, I told the man our sad condition: that there was only enough meal and oil in the house to make one more cake, and then my son and I would die.
“Then the man told me something amazing. He said to make him a cake first, and afterward to make one for my son and myself. He told me that the barrel of meal and my pot of oil would continue to have a supply, if I would obey.
“Some way, the Lord above dropped faith into my heart. I believed Him! How thankful I am for that. The words of the man, the prophet Elijah, were true. I made him a cake, and brought it out to him. How hard my heart was beating as I went back toward our home to look once more into my meal barrel and my pot of oil.
“Truly, a miracle had happened! There was still some remaining! And so it was that the Lord sustained my life and that of your father and the prophet of God through all the days that followed, until, at last, the rains came again to our land.”
A long breath escaped me as she finished her story and gazed dreamily off into space. I can remember looking up into her lined face; and though just a little boy, I thought: God, please help me to have faith like my grandmother’s.
Today, a grown man with sons of my own, that is still my prayer.