I recently heard a sermon where the teacher was talking about when Hannah was childless and made her vow to the Lord if He would give her a son. One thing has stood out to me this last week. The teacher talked about Hannah's promise to give the child to the Lord, which in that day was to quite literally give her child to the priest at the temple to raise and train up to serve the Lord in the temple. He talked about how in that day Eli was getting old and his sons were adults who were serving by that time. Eli's sons were quite terrible priests who abused their positions and took advantage of their power in lots of situations. It was into that culture in the temple that Hannah committed to give up her son, if the Lord would grant her a son.
I don't understand that. How can you desperately want a child then give that child up to a totally evil place in your commitment to the Lord? How does that fulfill your deep desire to have a child? I don't understand it at all. Except, I can relate to it.
When we first had J and were talking about dedicating him to the Lord, Ty and I really talked about the depth of what that meant. We even looked at examples such as Hannah and Samuel. When we dedicated both of our children, we were vowing that we were giving them back to the Lord. It certainly didn't feel as though we were having to do anything so hard as what Hannah did in leaving Samuel in Eli (and his sons' care). We couldn't have pictured how that felt.
Over the last couple years we have gained a new understanding of what it means to dedicate our children to the Lord. From worship services where we have walked through an experience where we actively agreed to join Jesus in suffering (and having E insist on joining in-and God showing me a glimpse of how true it is for our kids to join in that), to E's fall over a year ago and having to trust God with her very life and give up control again, to leaving our kids at a school in a foreign land where they don't speak the language...we are starting to know what setting our kids apart to the Lord means. It is hard. It goes against what others think makes sense, or is safe. It hurts as to give them up means we have loss. It is also totally safe. We aren't giving our kids to foreign people. We aren't giving our kids to kids who may or may not be bullying them. We aren't abandoning our kids to fend for themselves-as much as our hearts may feel otherwise! We are placing, no entrusting, our kids into the very hand of the living God. There is no safer place for them (or for our hearts). And this was my mantra over and over last week and I'm sure I'll be repeating many times in the weeks to come: I trust you Lord, I trust you Lord, I trust you Lord!
We continue to dedicate J and E to the Lord and know that He has them right where He wants them-in his presence! As we prayed tonight, we heard their trust in their little hearts as they pray. Looking just at the human perspective, I have no idea how any of us are going to do tomorrow morning. We are not looking merely at the human perspective though. I'm so thankful for a trustworthy God who is truly with us even in the midst of great danger and uncertainty (as Samuel was placed into). I'm also so thankful that my kids know the same. I pray that through these difficult days they will agree with their dedication to the Lord and walk out what that means for themselves!
Thanks for praying for us al
Carolyn & (sometimes) Ty