Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Open Hands

*This is just something I shared at a recent shower I attended*

We all know women who just exude motherhood. They look and act like moms way before they ever have children. They are the people every one's kids flock to and the first thing others say to them is "you are going to make a great mom." I was never one of those women, not take away from my love of being a mom, but I just didn't have that aura about me like some women do.

In first Samuel there is a woman named Hannah who is one of those women. She lives and breathes motherhood. Unfortunately, the scriptures tell us that for years and years Hannah tried to conceive a child. After many failed attempts at motherhood , Hannah finally prayed this prayer "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life..." (1 Sam. 1:11).

Later in the chapter we see where the Lord answers her prayer,

"19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."

21 When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, 22 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."
23 "Do what seems best to you," Elkanah her husband 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.
24 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. 25 When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, "As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. 27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 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."

Just picture this scene with me for a moment. Hannah is walking hand in hand with what is probably her three year old little boy, Samuel. Samuel does not know where he is, or why he is there. He is probably asking her "Where are we, Mommy? Why are we here?" Every question he asks is like a knife in her heart. How could she possibly explain this to him? How would his little mind ever understand? Can you imagine the tension she must have felt between being obedient to her God and clinging tightly to the love of her baby boy? As she gets closer to the priest I can only imagine the pain she must be feeling. Pain so deep she must want to physically double over. I can almost feel the weight of the sobs she is holding inside. In my mind I can see her unwrap Samuel's tiny fingers from her own and hand him over to Eli. I can picture her kneeling in front of Samuel with her hands on his face one last time as she prays this prayer over him: "Then Hannah prayed and said:

"My heart rejoices in the LORD;
in the LORD my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.

2 "There is no one holy like the LORD;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God."...

6 "The LORD brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts

8 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.

"For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's;
upon them he has set the world.

9 He will guard the feet of his saints,
but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.
"It is not by strength that one prevails;
10 those who oppose the LORD will be shattered.
He will thunder against them from heaven;
the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.
"He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed."

11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy ministered before the LORD under Eli the priest."

So what are we to take away from this story? Certainly, the challenge is not to give your children over to the church. As someone whose husband works for the church -- Don't do that! We do not want your children to raise. :) There is a challenge though, and I found two I'd like to share.

One, Hannah knew the gift was not hers to keep before the gift was even given. She set out to bring glory to God with what he gave her before He even answered her prayer. Gifts from God are given to those who receive with open hands. In His goodness, He does this because the true gift lies in the glory being given back to God. I can't help but wonder if God was just waiting all those years for Hannah to ask for a child with open hands rather than a tight grip.

Two, Hannah knew the God she was handing her son to. We see it in her prayer. She knew the power he held. She knew He held the universe in his hands. He had the power over life and death and yet still loved and cared for heart. She knew He held the strength of all these things and was still her strength as well. You see, when we really know God's character and trust that He is who He says he is, we have the ability to be open handed with His gifts to us -- even our children.

There will be times when you will wish you could drop your child off on the doorsteps of the church, and there will be times when you will feel the tension that Hannah felt between obedience to your God and a tight grip around your baby.

Hannah had an eternal focus. Oh, how she must have enjoyed the moments she had with Samuel, but Hannah knew God's plan for Samuel had eternal affects.

So, enjoy your moments. Relish in them. Just don't lose the eternal focus. Have an open hand with your child so that through both of you -- God will be glorified.


Amy said...

This is beautiful, brought tears to my eyes. What precious truth to share with all moms. Thanks for sharing.