The Gift Is The Sacrifice
"For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD." So they worshiped the LORD there."
1 Samuel 1:27-28
Reading from the book of 1 Samuel this morning I am reminded of something Jim Elliot once wrote in his journal, "He is no fool who gives away that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." That quote reminds me of Hannah who was barren and who prayed to God for a son and then when God answered her prayer Hannah did the unthinkable. Hannah offered the gift of God as a sacrifice to Him. No, she didn’t take his life as the pagans did. She brought her son to the house of the Lord and dedicated him to service of God all the days of his life.
Hannah understood what the LORD desires all parents to know. Our children don’t belong to us, they are on loan to us for a period of time. It’s hard to imagine Hannah taking her only child and offering him to the service of the LORD but that is exactly what she did. “Empty nest” syndrome is more than a syndrome, its a reality for many families and one that changes the way we live as our daily routine that once centered on and around our children is suddenly changed and the emptiness a parent can feel is like nothing else in this world. For many a parent the struggle becomes one of purpose and even identity. And yet Hannah by an act of her free will offers her son to the LORD.
Idolatry is loving anything more than God and I am pretty certain if parents had to choose between a God who they cant see and their children who they not only can see but can hold and love many would choose their children without question. Thats what makes this story of Hannah so special. I think most of us parents can relate to her sacrifice and what it reveals about the depth of her love and devotion to the LORD. Her offering is right up there with that of Abraham but now from a moms perspective. Even Elkanah her husband understood the love between mother and child reaches a level that not even marriage can attain. After all, children don’t just come from their mother’s womb, they are a part of them. As the saying goes, “when a child is born they cut the umbilical cord, but in the truest sense the umbilical cord never gets cut between mother and child.” For a mother to offer her child to the Lord was for her to offer her own life. It makes sense then that the gift is the sacrifice when it comes to having a children.
One of the best ways to hold a baby is to cradle them with palms pointed upwards, to hold them as they are, gifts from God. Hannah knew the safest place for Samuel to be was with the Lord and as parents we do well to keep that in mind today. She didn’t lose her child by offering him to the LORD, she ensured his safety. Regardless of how old your children might be today, you can offer them to the Lord in prayer. You can offer the gift of your children as a sacrifice to God, an offering that He will safely keep until the appointed day. Like Jim Elliot said, “He (or she) is no fool who gives away that which he cannot keep to gain that which he can not lose.” Remember, our children are on loan to us from God, they belong to Him.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.”
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