I had lunch with a daughter of a missionary yesterday and we talked about the extremes of missionary families. You go through periods of being on the other side of the globe from each other to usually being in close quarters for a few weeks as you have a precious few days together for a visit. It made me think of a recent visit with our own Missionary family in Papua New Guinea. Last fall, our daughter had to have an emergency surgery in Australia and I flew to to meet them to assist her family in any way possible.
One morning, I hugged our five year old grandson as we all were waking up for the day, I could see over his shoulder my large suitcase. I was struck with the thought that I longed for the day when a suitcase didn’t have to be in the room when I was with him. The suitcase served as a very constant reminder that this was only a temporary visit and that very soon we would all be on planes taking us once again to opposite sides of the globe.
My life is a series of letting go. In this way, I identify with Hannah in the Bible. ( I Samuel 1 & 2) I understand that when we dedicate out children to God He thinks they are His and guides them into His destiny for them.
The problem is we have a tendency to ask God for something and then have the mistaken notion that it is ours to keep. Hannah understood that we hold every blessing God gives us with an open hand not a clenched fist. Each gift is a sacred trust for as long as He deems it is best for us to hold it. Then as we release it back to God His blessing is released in our lives.
I see that as I gave my family back to God, we received the blessing of ministry world wide. We have new memories and opportunities that we never would have had if we had held on to her in California.
Like Hannah I had suffered with barrenness and had been told I could never have children because I had a disease that would prevent me from ever getting pregnant. As a young couple we prayed and cried out to God. Finally, God granted us with two wonderful children, so I can understand Hannah’s heart when she says…
1 Samuel 1”27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord answered my prayer and gave him to me. 28 Now I give him back to the Lord. He will belong to the Lord all his life.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
Hannah saw that God had truly given her the desire of her heart and yet this was not hers to hold and hoard but to release to a higher destiny than just being her gift…he was a child conceived in prayer and destined to impact a nation. She could not hold him back from what God wanted to do in his life.
Hannah understood that the presence of God is all she needed and that it is His love alone that we can’t do without. After leaving Samuel with Eli she sings this heartfelt song…
“My heart rejoices in the Lord!
The Lord has made me strong.*
Now I have an answer for my enemies;
I rejoice because you rescued me.
2 No one is holy like the Lord!
There is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.”
I Samuel 2:1-10 New Living Translation
You would think that she would go back to being sorrowful because now she had to give up the one thing she had longed for, but as she surrenders Samuel to God she experiences an aspect of a relationship with Him that is wonderful …there is no one besides our God. No one is more important or significant to our existence. It is good to be near God! (Psalm 73) Something about surrender is not only good for us but an essential part of our walk with God.
To Surrender means to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion, to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another.
Hannah saw that giving back to God what she was taking a step closer to an intimate trust in God. She fully realized that it was all His in the end….not hers to dictate and control. To truly surrender your heart and life to God we have to learn to fully trust Him with all that we have.
Is He a good God who wants and knows what is best for us or do we have to keep our fingers on the wheel of our life like a nervous parent teaching our kids to drive because He might drive me into a pole!
Matthew 7:11 says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! “
So the suitcase present whenever I visit with my daughter, son in law and grandsons, serves as a very real reminder that we dedicated our children to God. In return God has given us international experiences that we could never dreamt of. He has worked in our hearts a greater dependence upon Him and a deep compassionate love for others.
Hannah might have walked away empty handed that day but not empty hearted. She revealed a strong trust and faith in God as she did what no other woman did in scripture and with great joy!
We are in relationship God who understands at the very core the nature of letting go and the significance of the suitcase in the room!
Romans 8:32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else?
Praying that your heart will be full as you surrender fully to God!