“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I have also lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:27-28 (NKJV)
I have been thinking a lot recently about what it means to give my children to the Lord, partially because of the testimony of a couple from my home church in Pennsylvania who lost three of their children in a car accident last year. And also because, for the past week and a half my newborn nephew has been fighting for his life in the hospital, and my sister- and brother-in law have been in the midst of facing the possibility of having to literally give their child back to the Lord.
Hannah gave up Samuel; she honored her oath to the Lord for remembering her and giving her a son. When he was weaned, Hannah returned her son to the Lord by giving the priest Eli charge of his life and his education. In reality, according to God’s command in the Old Testament, all firstborn (sons) were to be consecrated to the Lord (Exodus 13:2, 13). Rather than requiring a human sacrifice as was required by the followers of Molech, the Lord, full of mercy, allowed for the children to be redeemed by the sacrifice of a lamb. In our modern time, there are no temples to turn our children over to and blood sacrifices are no longer needed to be made to redeem our children because of the ultimate blood sacrifice made by Jesus Christ on the cross.
So, how do I set my children apart for the Lord?
First, I need to make the choice to actively give them back to God as He requires. In reality, they are already His. God just entrusted them to me and my husband to raise and care for them. And when I became a believer, everything that is mine, past, present, and future, belongs to God. It is my job to relinquish them into His hands every day.
“…I will give [them] to the Lord all the days of [their] life…” 1 Samuel 1:11c (NKJV)
Second, I need to teach them diligently to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all of your strength,” in the midst of daily life, when I am sitting, walking, resting, and playing with them (Deuteronomy 6:5-7). So that as they go about normal life as children and as adults, they will recognize that the Kingdom of God is within them:
“For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21b (NKJV)
Third, I need to demonstrate to them the truth of living in the non-legalistic, freedom of the Kingdom of God. As my children grow, they will learn what being connected to God looks like and feels like; they will learn the benefits and freedom of being God’s sons and daughters, co-heirs with Christ. They will be able to choose to lose their lives in God’s agape love.
“Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” Luke 17:33 (NKJV)
Fourth, I need to show them how to be in relationship with the Lord, how to worship, pray, immerse themselves in the Word of God. Not so they will grow up thinking that God is there solely to meet their own needs, wants, and desires, but so that they will be a part of the Samuel generation, a generation that seeks God’s face to minister to the desires of God’s heart (1 Samuel 2:11,13; 3:1). They will be among those children whose primary ambition is hear and obey God’s voice.
“But Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child wearing a linen ephod.” 1 Samuel 2:13 (NKJV)
In Hannah’s life, because she obeyed the Word of the Lord and honored her oath, not only was she blessed, God giving her five more children, but the whole of Israel was blessed because Samuel was to become a prophet during a time in Israel’s history when it was rare to hear the Word of the Lord (1 Samuel 3:1). Samuel was also blessed by being among the few who knew the Lord directly.
“And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.” 1 Samuel 2:26 (NKJV)
As I am obedient in setting apart my children for the Lord, I will be blessed like Hannah was blessed. But more importantly, my children will be blessed as Samuel was blessed.
Father, help me give my children back to you every day, regardless of what that means for their futures – the one that is born, the one in my womb, and the ones whose lives You’ve only planned. Help me care for them, nurture them, and teach them according to Your ways and in Your will. Help me Holy Ghost! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India