The Empty Barrel

by Aug 10, 2020Devotional

For who hath despised the day of small things?  Zechariah 4:9

A friend told me one time that she made decisions like a squirrel crossing a road.  That completely describes me.  Maybe I should get this.  No, maybe I shouldn’t.  Then again, maybe I should. 

With the kind of vacillation that I do, I drive myself crazy.  Sending weekly devotionals has had an element of that.  There is so much going through my mind.  Wait, what if I run out of ideas?  No, I think this is what I’m supposed to do.  (I really do admire people who do not think in zig zags!) 

A few weeks ago, when it was time to send out a devotional, I noticed that I felt empty, like I had nothing to give.  Then, I went to my computer, and one thought would be there.  Just ONE!  Whew!  I worried.  If I only had one thought, what would I do after that thought was over?  Would I reach in the next time and find NOTHING?

Then the next week, the same thing would happen.  Instead of an abundance, I would have just one thought.  I would type that thought and send it, once again opening my heart.

It seemed like I was scraping the barrel.  I told my niece Merilee that I was trying to find direction for the next step.  Fourteen years ago, I started working on visualized stories.  Within the last year, this has broadened into devotionals, a visualized song, a VBS theme pack, and audio dramas.  I definitely need God to direct my path!  I wondered, “Since I’m having to dig, does that mean the well is dry?  Is a weekly devotional not God’s plan for now?”  

This had already been swirling in my mind when my pastor Bro. Johnny Wade got up to sing the Wednesday night special. Two to three years ago, he wrote a song to the tune of “I Keep Coming Back to the Well of Grace” by Joel Hemphill.  Bro. Johnny’s song is about the widow and her barrel from the time of Elijah.

I keep coming back to the barrel of flour. 

An empty barrel but it holds great power.

I reach down deep and find power for the hour. 

I thank God for the flour.

By Bro. Johnny’s calculations, during the famine, this widow woman went to her empty barrel over 2,000 times!  Each time, there was barely enough in the barrel.  The widow would reach down her hand and scraaaaape down this side and scraaaaape down that side and come up with enough.  Enough to feed herself and her son and also Elijah.  Not out of her abundance, but just scrapings!  Bro. Johnny feels like if God had given her everything she had needed up front, it would have created problems.  She would have needed a place to store the volume of meal and oil to take care of three years of meals!  She would have to keep everything safe from the mice and thieves!  God gave her exactly what she needed, when she needed it.  And He increased her trust.

You may want to have a blessing out of your abundance, but God may choose to satisfy your need out of the seeming little, Bro. Johnny has told us.  While waiting for the huge blessing, don’t dismiss the bite-sized things that God gives to supply your needs.

I sat in church and agreed with God.  “Ok, Lord.  Give me what you want to give me, when you want to give it!  I’ll reach my hand down into the empty barrel, and whatever my hand pulls out, I’ll make a cake.”

Since I told God that, there have been weeks when I wasn’t sure about the devotional that came out of my empty barrel.  It might not be a meal to please everyone, but it has been God’s.  He can do with it what He wants.  I want it to be HIS CAKE! 

There came a day, that the widow put her hand into her barrel and came up with nothing; but by then, the famine was over.  There may come a time when I can’t find any flour.  But that will mean that my cake isn’t needed.

If what I write helps anyone, I’m so glad to offer the cake.  I thank God for the flour.

(I have had a few people tell me that I should put the weekly devotional posts into a devotional like The Lord’s Dealings.  I was not entirely sure about this, since anyone can read these posts on the website without purchasing a book.  However, it seems like not everyone does email.  If the Lord will give me a few more “cakes,” I hope to put this into book form.  The title will definitely be The Empty Barrel!  This post explains why!)



  1. Deena Haines

    I love this devotional, Elizabeth💗

  2. Janet Albertson

    I loved this. I’ve enjoyed every one of the devotionals. Thank you for letting God use you!

    • Elizabeth Hamilton

      Thank the Lord for the flour!

  3. Melinda Heyer

    Very good! I needed to read this even a week later it was what I needed to hear💖

    • Elizabeth

      God knows how to time things!