Back in August, I had my first Oak hall experience. If you haven’t read it yet, then pop over to The Lake to find out more about the wonders of Umbria, Italy and group holidaying!
What make Oak Hall specialised is that it is a Christian run holiday company. For me, that was the attraction, being together in beautiful Italy and having intentional opportunities to grow in faith. Holidaying like this was normal for me in my teens, my family were part of a Christian Camping & Caravan Fellowship and I would go off to Soul Survivor with my youth group each summer. Vacation for me is both restoration for the body and soul. Much as I loved a beach holiday, a city break or a hideaway; I am always seeking how God best wants to restore my soul through holiday. This year the answer was Oak Hall.
As I allowed distraction and worries to fade, as God took me to the waters to rest, as He spoke to my heart through worship and word
extract from The Lake
In the previous post I wrote about how God spoke to me through nature as I watched the golden summer transition to the bronze and copper tones of Autumn. This is about how God spoke to me through Ray, our speaker for the week at Oak Hall
In the run up to the week, Ray sent us an email laying out his readings and focus for his talks. The talks were optional, no one batted an eyelid if you wanted an evening off (this holiday truly was for you), but for me, something had caught my eye, and I wanted to be there for it.
Back in May, a friend had prayed for me, regarding a certain situation. In the prayer he was reminded of the Widow’s Oil a story in 2 Kings about Elisha. The widow is broke and creditors re threatening to take her sons as slaves. All she has left is a “small jar of olive oil.” Elisha tells her to go to her neighbours, asking for as many empty jars as possible. Into these jars she is to pour oil until each is filled. She does this and all the jars are filled. His prayer was that where I felt I only had a jar of oil and were running on empty (or feared it happening), God would do something in you that as you continue to pour out where He asks. (There was more, but thats the overview!).
The next month I am sent a wallpaper for my phone that speaks of not focusing on the ‘lack’ but on Jesus. Now this, a list of talks about jars, I just knew God was in this!
Calm, Breath, as waves cross the lake take heart, goodness flows towards you
We began with a drought, prophesied by Elijah. Elijah is instructed by the Lord to hide in the Kerith Ravine, and drink from the brook, whilst being feed by ravens. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. Eventually the river dies up.
I recognise that space, the sense of everything is falling apart and dying around me. The sense that the source of God’s blessing has dried up. Ray gently reminded up, Gods resources never r out, instead God is moving Elijah on, preparing him for the battle to come.
Enter stage left, a widow at her wits end (1 Kings 17), hit by this hardship, all she can see now is death. Elijah is sent to her. Again this is a women with little left “only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug.” Yet God allows a miracle and through her giving in her ‘lack’, abundant provision comes and sustains her.
Peace be still, father I still my heart before you.
Next we heard of the Wedding at Cana, where the wine has run out! Jesus instructs the servants at the wedding to “Fill the jars with water”; then, “draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” I wonder which gutsy individual drew the short straw for that one! Yet a miracle happens.
Then, a women, asked by Jesus to draw him a drink from the well has her life turned upside down when she does so. An alabaster jar, poured out on Jesus, no expense spared, a man who chose to carry a water jar for Jesus (not customary in this time)
Still my soul, God is stirring the waters
Ray stirred us with questions but I knew Holy Spirit was also posing his own question to me; because the one theme that kept cropping up for me was this…
Action & Expectation
In each of the stories, I was drawn to the fact that an action was performed. That action was to trust that in seemingly nothing when the jar was reached into, drank from, poured out, carried along…there was expectation of God’s goodness and provision.
God is still working through my brain in this but I know in the centre of it is this: He is asking me to reach into nothing; He is asking me to drink from His new wine, pour out all I have on him, allow him to transform my life, do as He asks (even if its counter-cultural) and trust for his goodness and provision.
Where we ended
We ended looking at us being the new wine skins, the jars of clay. That within us is the greatest gift of all.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
I pray this has encouraged you, especially if you feel you are facing hardship and lack. I pray God shows you what to do next and that you experience his never ending provision and goodness.