Last month we celebrated my daughter’s first birthday. She’s still such a little person, yet her big personality is already shining through as bright as can be. My husband and I are not exactly alike, so it’s pretty easy to identify which characteristics our daughter gets from his side and which ones come from mine. Then there are those traits that make you question if “they” switched your baby at the hospital.
In Loving the Little Years, Rachel Jankovic describes this scenario as two tomato plants realizing that the child in their hothouse is not at all a nice little tomato — in fact the child looks more like a watermelon! She says, “Parents the whole world over fall into the temptation of wanting their children to share their loves, and grow up to be just like them. Sometimes, by nature, the children do. Everything is so easy! No one has to change.” She goes on to say that with your new “watermelon” comes an expanded skill set. “Oftentimes, our children’s gifts will take us places that we never intended, but needed, to go.”
The unexpected things really get our attention. A barren womb gets our attention. Realizing our little tomato is in fact a watermelon will get our attention. It’s the hard things that take us deeper. What is this parenting thing all about? Why did God give me this particular bright and beautiful child? We might find ourselves asking, “now what?”
Hannah was a woman in the Bible who wrestled with these questions. Because she walked through these hard places before us, we can learn from her example of what it truly means to embrace motherhood the way God designed.
1 Samuel 1:11 records Hannah’s prayer, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”
At the end of Hannah’s prayer, we see two responses we are to model as godly mothers:
1.) Dedication = A sure purpose.
Our initial work as parents is to dedicate our child to the Lord. This involves letting go of our plans for our children and embracing His purposes. Hannah actually prayed this prayer before Samuel was born, showing us that dedication begins with the parent. It is your choice. This is both an awesome and frightening responsibility. The earlier your child is told and understands that he is marked for God’s service, the greater the impact it will have on him. Dedication must also come out of a watchful and willing heart. We see that Hannah came to the place of dedication freely and not by coercion. She freely gave her son to the Lord because she recognized that God had a sure purpose for Samuel’s life. She could trust the Lord because He had first given Samuel to her. What God gives, we must give back to God.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
2.) Consecration = A setting apart.
Our life-long work as parents is to consecrate our child to the Lord. To set apart means “to put in a specified position or place; to adjust to a specific point or calibration.” This will require you to study your child. Learn how his gifts, his temperament, his “everything” can be used for the Lord. Nothing is off limits. Teach him how to walk, talk, live, play, work, and rest. We must start when he is small, pliable, and formative. Tell him, “We are different. We are called. We are set apart.”
Like dedication, consecration also begins as your choice, but in the end your child will choose for him or herself. Like a runner in a team relay, your child will start running before you finish your part of the race. And in order to secure a smooth hand off, you must not let go of the baton until you see it is secured in the hand of your child. Then Romans 12:1 becomes a reality. The choice is for each one to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
When we dedicate and consecrate our child, God responds with:
3.) Redemption = A sacred plan.
When dedication and consecration come together, they produce the fruit of redemption; not just individually but corporately. Hannah’s faithfulness to dedicate and consecrate her son to the Lord put him in a position to be used mightily for God’s kingdom. God used Samuel as a judge, prophet, and priest to bring His people back to Him during a very dark time in Israel. During those first few years of Samuel’s life, Hannah couldn’t possibly have known the magnitude of her obedience. That is because we always reap more than we sow. God is in the multiplication business! He takes our faith and our obedience and He does more with it than we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
And that is why God’s plan of redemption is our future rest.
At the end of the race, we will reap the reward of a life spent for a higher calling and purpose. We can rest in God’s faithfulness as we watch what only He can do — redeem. His sacred plan of redemption is not just for us and our children, but for our neighbors, our city, and the nations.
“He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome is His name.” Psalm 111:9
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