Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Same God

"But Samuel was ministering before the LORD -a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. 20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, "May the LORD give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the LORD." Then they would go home. 21 And the LORD was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD." 1 Samuel 1:18-21

My readings took me into 1 Samuel yesterday. 1 Samuel begins with the story of Hannah. Hannah was a childless woman, and her husband's second wife, Peninah, had several children and would taunt her continuously. Yet Hannah's husband loved her best, would shower her with gifts and would reassure her of his love and tell her that she didn't need children to please him. But it weighed on her, heavily, and on a trip to the temple, she was overcome with grief and made a deal with God. She pledged her child to God if only she were to be allowed to conceive. God smiled on Hannah and allowed her to become pregnant. Amazingly to me, she follows through on her promise to God, and at the tender age of three, she took young Samuel to the temple to live. Imagine that! Just as Jochebed gave Moses to Pharaoh's daughter at the age of three, here Hannah gave God Samuel at the age of three. Three years of life go by in the blink of an eye. Abigail turned three before we had Zander, and I have to say, I couldn't imagine taking my only child at the age of three and giving her to someone else to raise.

But Hannah honored her vow to God, and in return, this gracious God smiled on Hannah and blessed her with five more beautiful children.

One thing that has been impressing upon me as I read through the Bible cover-to-cover is that the God that I've been reading about in Genesis, Exodus, and 1 Samuel is the same God who is today. The same God who smiled on his people is the same God who we worship today. The same God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah is the same God we serve today. The same God who told Abraham to sacrifice his son is the same God who talks to us in our sleep. The very same God who saw the heart of Hannah when she took Samuel to the temple, and then blessed her with five more children is the very same God who sees us today. He knows our hearts, he knows what we desire more than anything, and he wants to know where his place is among those desires.

God wants to be first, above all. And while, yes, He is a God to be feared, He is also a God of Love. Crazy as it may sound, God loves each and every one of us and wants us to live with Him in Heaven for all eternity. And while we are on earth, he may have a few things for us to do first. He may present a Samuel before us- and will we be ready to give it over to him? Hannah loved her son with all her heart- but loved her God even more. Is there something that you've placed before God? A job, a child, a spouse, money, TV, internet, a hobby? Are you ready to give that to God? For the one child that Hannah gave God, He gave her five more. The God we worship today is the same God who saw that sacrifice so many years ago, and is the same God who sees what we sacrifice in his name.

"He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.
"For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's;
upon them he has set the world.

9 He will guard the feet of his saints,
but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.
"It is not by strength that one prevails;

10 those who oppose the LORD will be shattered.
He will thunder against them from heaven;
the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.
"He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed." 1 Samuel 2:8-10

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