Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Mother's Sacrifice

I cried this morning when I read my Bible study.  That isn't normal for me.  I mean I can cry at a good movie, or even a bad movie.  I can be moved by a Bible story.  But I am not sure I have ever actually been moved to tears by the lesson alone. 

1 Samuel 1:19-28 reads:
Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the LORD remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”

When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, Hannah did not go.  She said to her husband, "After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always."

“Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him. After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.

I can understand wanting something so badly that I attempt to bargain with God.  God doesn't bargain with us.  He doesn't have to.  But when he reads our hearts and our desires, sometimes He grants us those things we desire so much.  Hannah had been provoked repeatedly by Elkanah's other wife.  Hannah so desperately wanted a child that she vowed that if God gave her a child, she would give the child back. 

I can imagine making a promise like that when it seems there is no hope.  But God looked into her heart and knew that she would be faithful to her vow. After God blessed her with a child, the one dream that had seemed so out of reach, she trained him in the ways of the Lord. 

Then when he turned three years old, she took him to Eli and left Samuel there at the house of the Lord, just as she had promised. 

I have read this passage many times.  It took my study this morning and the book I am reading to really slow it down for me and let the words jump off the page.  I hurt for her.  I hurt for the child.  That is my weakness showing through.  Hannah was BLESSED by this child.  Samuel was BLESSED by the life he was going to live.  Yet my mind and heart grieved for them.  I cannot even begin to comprehend leaving my three year old child.  If I had been Hannah and made a vow such as she did, would I have been strong enough and faithful enough to follow through?  I thought of Breckin.  I can't even think of taking him somewhere and leaving him.  He is almost the age Samuel was when Hannah left him with Eli.

How poor is my faith?  So shallow, so poor. But Hannah had faith.  And God had a plan.  He gave Hannah a child who she raised and trained faithfully.  She prepared Samuel for the life he was going to live.  When Samuel was three years old and his mother left him with Eli, how did Samuel react?  He WORSHIPPED the Lord. 

God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved Isaac, then later provided a ram.  Hannah sacrificed her three year old child to God's service. Beth Moore states, " God does not ask of us that we take our children to the temple and leave them there to be reared by priests, but we must give them to God in other, equally important ways."

So while I grieved for Hannah and Samuel, I also grieved for myself and my own children.  Do I love God enough and trust Him enough to give them to God in whichever way He sees fit? 

I don't know the answer to this.  I would like to think the answer is yes.  I trust that He and His plans our sovereign.  What I don't trust is my humanity and my weakness.  So with tears in my eyes I ask myself, "What stands in the way of me giving my children totally over to God?"

So until we know how God will use them, I will vow to teach them about God, to teach them His word, and attempt to live my life in such a way that when it is over someone might say that I had faith, that I sought God, and that I fulfilled my vow with a mother's sacrifice.

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