When we couldn’t afford to heat our home

A few years ago, my family and I were living in a rural area in New York State and planning to move to Los Angeles, where my husband was working. A family had contracted to buy our home, but the sale was contingent on them selling their house first. This did not happen quickly, and all our funds were tied up until the sale was completed. I was very fearful and spent many nights tossing and turning.

It was the middle of a harsh winter, and our big, old Victorian country house needed lots of heat. Our house was heated by oil, which was supplied via a five-hundred-gallon tank in the yard. The oil company called to remind me that it was time for them to refill it, but I told them not to come, not knowing how I would pay for the oil.

One day, feeling brave, I decided to go and look at the gauge on the tank. When I saw that the needle was below empty, I felt the blood drain from my face, and my heart started racing. I was overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to find enough money to pay for a large oil delivery on top of all our other expenses.

I realized I couldn’t work out the many obstacles facing my family on my own. But I knew I could turn to God for help. So I prayed.

I knew I could turn to God for help.

I thought about how dependent much of the world is on oil to provide some of the basic necessities of life, such as transportation and heating. But my study of Christian Science had given me a different perspective on oil. In the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy gives this spiritual definition of oil: “consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration” (p. 592). Oil, then, can be seen as a spiritual idea representing spiritual qualities.

In the Bible, the prophet Elisha meets a widow who is at the end of her rope (see II Kings 4:1–7). She has no food and no way to provide for herself and her two sons. When Elisha discovers her plight, he asks her what she has in her house. All she has is a pot of oil, which, to her, doesn’t appear to be enough to solve her problem. But Elisha, whom the Bible refers to as a “man of God,” tells the woman to borrow empty pots from her neighbors and pour the oil into the pots. The woman follows his instructions, and even after every available pot is filled, there is still enough oil for the woman and her sons. Elisha tells her to sell the oil, which will enable her to pay her debts and provide a living for her and her children.

This Bible story helped me begin to gain a better concept of God’s unfailing care and supply for His children. And I prayed to know that the oil I really needed was heavenly inspiration, which God is continuously supplying, and that I would have more of this inspiration the more I kept my thinking aligned with God’s goodness and love. 

At times, I was tempted to imagine how my need was going to be met. Would it be an unexpected check in the mail? Would the oil company suddenly feel benevolent and deliver the oil free of charge? But I needed to keep myself from speculating about the result and instead leave the solution to God. I gathered my containers in my thought, so to speak, and knew I had all the oil—the consecration, charity, gentleness, prayer, and inspiration—needed to fill them, oil which God was lovingly supplying. Every day I kept my focus on supply being spiritual ideas and knew that this true oil was flowing freely.

Although our oil tank hadn’t been filled, we’d had plenty of heat all winter!

After several months of dedicated prayer and deep study of the Bible and Mrs. Eddy’s writings, I suddenly realized that although our oil tank hadn’t been filled, we’d had plenty of heat all winter! It wasn’t a faulty gauge on the tank or a misread of the oil level. It was clear to me that our spiritual oil never ran out, and this understanding had resulted in our needs being met in a very practical way. 

I am so grateful for this experience and for a renewed sense of God’s infinite care. Whatever personal or other storms attempt to interrupt our activities or supply, we can always pray and trust that God’s love and provision are indeed overflowing—and at hand!

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