It’s amazing how Hannah, in the Old Testament, gave her baby back to the Lord. She laid him down, the child she had been waiting for, cried for, prayed and fasted years for. I was thinking how easy it was for me, like Hannah, to make that promise to God, out of desperation for a child, “I promise, Lord, to give him back to you.”
And then this beautiful boy becomes your baby and you don’t think about that promise for a while, you just enjoy the incredible blessing and gift from heaven.
But a few years goes by and the terrible two’s hit, and you find yourself walking through your home with a screaming baby, that’s pitching a fit on the floor and your prayer sounds a little more like, “Dear God, you gave me this child and I told you I would give him back to you, so here you go. He’s all yours.”
But then, the sweetness returns. He says, “I love you, mommy,” and brings you a precious, bug covered, wild flower he picked from the yard for you. And you keep that special flower, pressed in your favorite book, as a token of that tender moment.
Giving him back to God in those precious moments, is where the cost of the promise is felt.
I felt this recently, when my husband and I stopped on the curbside at the busy Atlanta airport, and we watched our only son, a young, new Marine, carrying all of his belongings on his back, now off to his new life. I see the man now, who has become a Marine. He’s earned success through hard work and determination. I heard my heart proclaim the words, “And, there he goes…” It wasn’t a desperate grief statement or a feeling of loss like before when he left for initial training. Of course, I felt the pain of letting him go, the sadness in my heart was very present, the ocean of tears waiting to burst through the dam. But now, this letting go moment was different; I was bursting with pride, and joy, as a front row witness in his move toward success.
It’s easy to lay down your child to the Lord when they are barely in your arms, or when things get difficult, but how do you let them go when your heart is bursting with pride and tears of love roll down your face from the explosion of joy happening in your heart? ♥️
That’s when parenting really hits the hardest, I believe. It’s not loving them through the terrible twos, or the behavior breakdowns; that’s not the hardest part.
It’s in the moments when you are the most proud of them, when you see them happy, successful and content, it’s loving them there, and knowing you are now letting them go. That’s the true depth of pain in parenting.
Giving them back to God when things are good. That’s what’s hard.
I imagine Hannah, in the Old Testament, raising her precious, sought-after baby, Samuel, caught up in her mom world of loving him, feeding him, rocking him to sleep. The promise to return him to God’s service, far back in the recesses of her subconscious. She cares for him in sickness, she cleans up the unimaginable in the middle of the night. She survives the dark nights with grace and dignity, and extra rounds of coffee the next day.
But the sweetness comes. The little boy calls her mom. It’s no longer a battle in the night, it’s now a boy who loves his mom, and a mom who loves her boy. He brings her joy. And seasons pass where they laugh and play and she watches him grow.
Until one day, on a beautiful sunny spring afternoon, she sees him running through the field by their house chasing the tiny white butterflies. As she hangs her laundry to dry, a breeze blows her sons brown curly hair. She notices how beautiful his brown skin is in the sun light. His chubby smile, his tiny, little boy hands, and his bright attention toward the earth captures her heart. She’s in love with this gift that came from above. The breeze blows around her, too, cooling her face and neck as her hair also begins to toss in this wind.
But this is no ordinary wind… this wind brings a whisper to her heart and enters her world, causing everything around her to become silent and still for a mere moment that seems more like hours.
The Whisper is here. The voice of the One her heart loves. The One that is her Redeemer and gave her the one thing she desired the most. The Promise Maker has arrived in the wind and whispers simple words in her heart that echo like a ripple on the water, “It’s time.”
It’s time. She knew what this meant. She knew exactly what this voice was telling her.
Right now. When things are beautiful and perfect. It’s time. Not when it’s messy and the middle of the night, when she would have gladly surrendered to The Whisper for the chance of a little extra sleep and a lot more of her sanity returned to her.
It’s now. In this moment, when her boy means the most to her. When her boy is her whole world…it’s time.
Time to let him go. Time to keep your promise. Time to surrender him to the Lord’s care. Time to release him to service for the Kingdom.
“But he’s just a boy?”
“But we’ve barely had time together…”
“It feels too soon.”
“What if he’s not ready?”
“I’m not sure I can do this now. I need your help more than ever.”
Two simple words, completely altering her heart and world. She carried him. She named him. She raised him. Now he will grow in a place where he will become a man that hears The Whisper.
He will become the strongest of his generation…because he too listened to The Whisper.
He will fight battles and win with just his bare hands….because he kept a promise.
He will lead his community with dignity…because this boy did not fear danger, he followed his destiny.
His legacy will be spoken of for generations…because a mother kept her Promise, because a mother surrendered him back to The Lord.
She pursued a Promise, loving him for his life.
She kept the Promise, letting him go for his service.
1 Samuel 1:27-28
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.
So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”
And he worshiped the Lord there.