As the economic recession deepens, a lot has been said about the need for multiple streams of income. The real question for some is what skills do I need to create these extra streams? This book helps you rephrase the question to one that helps you to be a great part of the solution – What do you have in your house? – Tosan A.
GO BORROW VESSELS / MENSA OTABIL/ PUBLISHER/2012/ 131 PAGES
The book is centered around the story of Elisha and the widow in the Bible who was about to lose her sons due to the debts owed by her late husband. The story is popularly known as one of the miracles of Prophet Elisha but this book came in from a completely different angle. It focused on all the other details that made the miracle possible particularly how the widow contributed largely to her own testimony and how her actions that led to the miracle moment.
It is based on the questions and answer session that transpired between the widow and the prophet. (I have put the session in a conversation style to provide some clarity and to highlight some of the intervals between the steps taken).
WOMAN: Your servant is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. and the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.
ELISHA: what shall I do for you? what do you have in your house?
WOMAN: I have nothing … but … a jar of oil
ELISHA: Go borrow vessels from all your neighbors- empty vessels, do not gather just a few. And when you come in you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels and set aside the full ones.
(then she did all she had been told)
(Then she went back to the man of God and told him)
ELISHA: Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.
The significance of the two questions asked by Elisha was largely emphasized as it was the widow’s choice to answer the latter that snowballed into the eventual miracle. If she had answered the first, she may have gotten the fish but not learnt how to fish – probably prayers or welfare.
The book is directed at anyone looking to turn their passion (hobby) into a business or taking a fresh look at the talents or gifts they had undermined. The widow had overlooked the little jar of oil in her house but that was what eventually saved her and her sons. The oil depicts the gifts, skills and talents that you have while the jar is what ‘houses’ the gift or how you express that gift.
The power of the word – ‘BUT’; It undermines or even negates the previous statement.
I have nothing… but a jar of oil.
The creative response by Elisha – Go borrow vessels aimed at creating an amplifying effect to the widow’s overlooked oil. The vessels were the “packaging” that made the oil sell-able. The vessels are enhancers to your oil. For the widow, the empty vessels created more room for her miracle and provided a lasting solution to her seemingly impossible situation.
The author patiently addresses the other details mentioned in Elisha’s instruction to the widow explaining their importance in relation to the creative word – Go borrow vessels.(see as underlined above) which would have otherwise raised questions to belittle the widow’s participation in her liberation.
I love the book for the simple and practical examples used to explain the concepts. I also like that the author was able to bring the message home to the African continent, reminding us to be intentional about breaking the cycle of dependency. As nations who have been portrayed as victims to the rest of the world for a long time, He admonishes us to look inwards at our home and work on discovering, developing and amplifying our gifts and areas of strength.
WHAT QUESTIONS ARE YOU ANSWERING? Even after reading this, I still find it unnatural to choose to answer the second question – what do you have in your house? It is just so much easier to suggest solutions that involve other people taking full responsibility for solving our problems while we just receive the final package with open arms. This question involves thinking and being a part of the solution we so greatly seek. Choose wisely.
2. What do you have in your house?
1. what do you want?
Notice the sequence of instruction → action → instruction in the conversation above; Elisha gave instructions, the widow completely obeyed, before he gave the final direction or instruction. She didn’t get the full instructions at once, she had to act on the initial one before she got the next. Many times we want a full briefing on the agenda before we take any step.
First act on the word you have heard, then the next part will follow
LABELS AND TAGS: Most times, the oil is not the problem. It’s the jar that it is put in. The jar is also the label we give our oil. We have gifts that we downplay because of the labels we give them. Musical artistes are usually victims of public perception as we are quick to box them into genres – christian, hip pop R&B, we have to first remember that they are musicians first before being gospel or hip pop and at some point they will need to explore other options away from their usual ‘labels’. What labels have you categorized your skills in – hobby(ies) maybe?
Tosan’s take: Reading this book NOW is timely! It pushes you to act – I started this blog while I was half way through the book. I had undermined my love for reading and my gift of writing – not anymore. It will prompt you to take a plunge and act even as you begin to see your skills in a new light.
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