Tomorrow marks the start of a mini-vacation from blogging for Asha and I. She – bless her heart – and her family are in Germany for a wedding and we have family coming to visit, so this is likely the last post until next week. I will try to make it a good one, though. 🙂
I opened up my Bible today and I am sure many of us do sometimes…letting it flop open to any old place in hopes that A. It would not be a boring genealogy, and 2. That it would be short and sweet, letting me feel like I could quickly get on with the “important” things in my day.
(As a side note, we really should all try to approach the Bible with less drudgery and with more excitement. Not only do we get more out of it, but I think that Lord is much more pleased when we WANT to read His words than when we feel we HAVE to – make sense? If only it were as easy as reading a Facebook post…but then, maybe that is the point – maybe it is supposed to be more difficult and more in-depth so that we must approach Scripture reading with a sense of weight and respect? Just a thought…)
Anyway, back to today.
My Bible flopped on over to 1 Samuel 1 and 2. Ok, I thought. Samuel was pretty interesting. This may not be too bad for 7:30 am on a Sunday morning read. What I got, though, was a smack in the face about motherhood. My thoughts were flying in countless directions as I read about Hannah’s commitment to her promise that her son would be the Lord’s, and as I read her prayer after leaving him with Eli, and as I read the same chapters in four different Bibles because I had a burning feeling that I was MISSING something.
I was. Not an earth-shattering theological breakthrough, mind you. As Ecclesiastes states, there is really nothing new under the sun. But there was something new for ME; something new TODAY – and I am so glad that for once I took the time to sniff it out.
At the end of chapter one in verse 27 and onward, Hannah says, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him over to the Lord. For his while life he will be given over to the Lord.”
I typically use the NIV version, but today I turned to the New King James, the NASB, and the Amplified versions to try to make more sense of what was happening here. I found it interesting that the NASB version trades out the words “give” and “given” for “dedicate” and “dedicated.” So of course my logical next step was dictionary.com (mostly for its convenience, since my big green Webster’s dictionary is downstairs and I am now covered in (very heavy) Bibles and one (very hot) laptop).
Dictionary.com shared with me that to DEDICATE is to set apart or consecrate for a holy purpose; it must be a wholly intentional setting apart too, not just a ½ way move. So then – since curious minds want to know – I of course had to see what consecrate means. It pretty much means the same thing as dedication…go figure. But then I saw it…the last definition: to change (bread and wine) into the Eucharist. By now my mind is reeling. Why you ask? Well (those that have read Ann Voskamp’s book 1000 Gifts will totally know where I am going with this) according to Mrs. Voskamp’s book, the PRACTICE of Eucharist – giving thanks – can be applied (and should be applied) to our everyday lives. She states in her book (fortunately it is just within reach on my bedside bookshelf so I do not have to get up),
“The root word of eucharisto is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread and saw it as GRACE and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be a GIFT and gave thanks.”
She goes on to say, “Eucharisto also holds the Greek word chara, which means “joy.” … Deep chara is found only at the table of the euCHARisto – the table of thanksgiving…is the height of my CHARA joy dependent on the depths of my EUCHRISTO thanks? … Eucharisto – thanksgiving – always precedes the miracle…Eucharisto, the Greek word with the hard meaning and the even harder meaning to live – this is the only way from empty to full.”
So for Hannah, I wonder, if by giving, dedicating, CONSECRATING her son to the Lord were to hold this same view, then it would seem that maybe it was for her the beginning of a life lived with thanks, joy, and GRACE. Because every time she went to visit Samuel she would no doubt have been reminded of her promise to the Lord and the way that she kept that promise by CONSECRATING Samuel to the Lord. Each time she had to leave him behind as she returned home, her heard no doubt tugged with a desire to bring him with her. Her CONTINUED choice to honor the Lord, to choose consecration, to purpose to give thanks – find joy – would perhaps have allowed her to find peace and grace that she would have otherwise been without.
Perhaps this is a quantum leap…and if so, I am sorry, but I cannot help but compare my life to Hannah’s. I would also venture to say that many other moms out there are like her as well in the fact that we PRAYED for our children. We wanted them and we thanked God for them. In fact, Hannah’s prayer could likely be our own,
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.”
Except what happens with the second part of her prayer? For me, I know that if I was completely honest, I could not say those words and mean them. I want so much to hold them tightly; to keep my little girls safe and protected and forever in the life-box that I am comfortable with.
But what if by doing that they miss out on their calling? What if God has for them to be great like Samuel and – instead – they remain here with me because I was unwilling to have faith?
What if by keeping them in my comfort zone I miss out on the fullness of grace and joy that God has for me as a mother?
For me, not being in control or knowing the plan is one of the hardest things in life, so whenever I have a chance to be at the helm, I am right there blazing the trail myself. Making the decisions. Forming the plan. The thought of giving all that up is so foreign and so, well, UNCOMFORTABLE that I am not sure if I even want to consider it.
But what if Hannah and Ann are right? Why did Hannah specify twice (seemingly repetitive and unnecessary) that she was giving Samuel to the Lord – not just once but for his whole life? I wonder if maybe the second time – the part that spoke a lifelong giving process over her son – was more for her than for the Lord or for Eli’s benefit. Was she perhaps foreshadowing her decision to CONTINUALLY dedicate her son in her heart to the Lord for his entire life?
Ann Voskamp says, “Though Pastors preached it (eucharisto), I still came home and griped on. I had never practiced. Practiced until it became the second nature, the second skin. Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation. This training may prove to be the hardest of my life. It just might save my life.”
I see a theme here, and although I am not sure I like where this is going, my heart soars with a feeling of rightness. To solidify my thoughts: WHAT IF by consecrating my children to the Lord – in a lifelong practice of continuing to give them to the Lord in mind, word, and deed – I find a wormhole into the grace-giving presence of the Lord via thankfulness and joy? That is definitely something I want…but am I willing to sacrifice to get there? Am I willing to say,
“So now I give my girls over to the Lord. For their whole lives they will be CONSECRATED to the Lord.” If so, then perhaps I will one day be able to also say and truly mean what Hannah later prays in chapter 2 when she says, “My heart REJOICES in the Lord…I delight in Your deliverance. There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one beside You; there is no Rock like our God.” Back to good old dictionary.com again, only to find that, of course, rejoice also means “joy.” And we already know what that means, don’t we? 🙂
It means doing the hard thing, the thankfulness thing, the giving up thing. Now I do not think this means that next Sunday I need to take my girls down to the local church and drop them off forever. They would probably think I had finally lost it – one too many late nights and lumps of discarded food to the head, no doubt. But I DO think it means that I need to take an honest look at two things:
1. When can I have my girls dedicated in our church – because just as Hannah publicly brought forth Samuel, there is accountability in having others in on the fact that you plan to live life knowing and proclaiming that your kids are the Lord’s.
2. What would it look like for me to live a life of continued dedication – in other words, how can I get over myself and HONESTLY let go of this need to control and protect my children, especially since it is not like there is much I can do for them apart from the Lord’s help anyway.
This is the question that needs answered sooner rather than later. Maybe it is – as Ann did – the keeping of a thanksgiving journal in my home. Maybe it is a planner entry each week that is a reminder to pray for my kids and re-dedicate them in my heart to the Lord. Whatever it is, I know that in doing so, I will find joy, grace, and life. And as for personal dedication to the Lord, that is something that needs further pondering…more on that to come.