Monday, October 15, 2012

I'm sorry, Hannah!

I had a “Whoa, I had no idea THAT’S in there!!” moment in church a couple weeks ago.

We love our church!! Harvest Bible Chapel – West Olive. It has been an amazing place of growth and unity for us. Ken Gentzler proclaims God’s Word with a precision balance of grace and truth, his latest series being Vertical Church.

As I mentioned, two weeks ago Ken was talking about “An EpicFailure – 1 Samuel 2:12 – 4:22”. Digging into the question of What causesthe glory of God to depart? which when it happens, leaves a horizontal church void of vertical-ness. Showcasing the life of High Priest Eli and his sons Hophni and Phinehas, Ken showed how there was unscrupulous leadership, unbridled defiance, unacceptable priorities, unspoken Truth, unrestrained sin, and unreal commitment culminating with the birth of Ichabod which means “the glory is gone”.

In the middle of the description, list really, of Eli’s sons’ grotesque sins against God and the people of Israel are four verses which seem to interrupt the narrative.

“Samuel was ministering before the LORD, a boy clothed with a linen ephod. And his mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the LORD give you children by this woman for the petition she asked of the LORD.” So then they would return to their home. Indeed the LORD visited Hannah and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the LORD.”

I felt like a load of bricks slammed into my chest when I realized the reality of this verse for a mother. Hannah literally cried and prayed for this little boy, Samuel. She begged God to give her a son and promised to give him back to serve Him. When he was weaned, she brought little Samuel to Shiloh.

And.   Left.  Him. There.

With a High Priest who couldn’t even control his own two sons… with two worthless men who were horrible examples to have a little boy follow and emulate… Hannah trusted God.  Period.  She believed that God would protect her precious prayed-for son even as she fulfilled her heart-wrenching vow.

I used to think that she was just desperate. (Forgive my ignorance!) I’ve never felt the desperation that comes with not being able to have children. I have felt desperation about other things, just not in this way. I do know that desperate women will promise desperate things. So I figured, she gave whatever she had to so she could have a baby boy. When it came time and he was weaned, I imagine her shoulders heaved and tears flowed freely as she turned and walked away leaving her one and only son for the first time knowing she would not see him for an entire year. 

That’s the part I can’t imagine. Leaving my sweet little boy.

But she didn’t really leave him. She left her Samuel safe in God’s care – in the middle of wolves decked out in sheep’s clothing. She trusted Him with her most treasured blessing.

The first implication that SHOUTS to me is the decision parents make regarding their child’s education. No matter the decision, a parent must still leave their child in God’s care. They are still walking in the middle of wolves. Whether it’s the halls of a school or the sidewalk of their neighborhood, they desperately need God to protect their minds as they process the world around them.

The second implication cries out pleading: TRUST Him and PRAY for your children wherever they are educated. When you have moments with them, look for teachable moments… just live and point them to Jesus even in your failures. Pray over them. Pray for them. Pray for the adults who have influence in their lives. Pray that God will give them what they need in the moment. Pray. Pray. Pray.

If you were to see my sermon notes, they are copious until verse 25. After that, I got lost in Hannah’s mind and heart.

Doesn’t this world seem so impenetrably dark? Worthless men and unscrupulous leadership lurk everywhere?  Unbridled defiance oozes from young people.

Well, there’s hope peeking out from this passage.

Sandwiched between “17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the LORD, for the men treated the offering of the LORD with contempt” and “22 Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting” is the reminder that God is at work.

“21 …And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the LORD”

God is at work! Darkness is as light to Him. Even with worthless men and defiant young people, He is still placing fathers and mothers, sons and daughters for such a time as this. He is at work in our schools, our neighborhoods, our state, and – even – especially – our government.

We must teach our children with our lives.
Trust Him. Period.
Pray! Pray! Pray!

So, my dear Hannah,
I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for seeing you as a desperate woman who would do whatever necessary to fulfill her desire. You were desperate for God to intervene and to see Him act on your behalf. You had to have seen the worthless behavior of the priests who were supposed to be leading you. How amazing that it would be your son to eventually take their place as leader of the people. Thank you for your example: trusting God with your precious little boy.

A strong woman knows she must be desperate for God to be her strength.

Are you desperate for God to be your strength? Do you think “I know who my kids are playing with so I’m good”? Do you try to control who teaches your child in hopes of protecting your child from bad influences? Do you pray for your child – every single day? Do they know that you trust Him and your strength is found only in Him?

I’m following Hannah’s lead.

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