Page 87 has been a gray and overcast day with an occasional spit of rain which kept the birds happy outside my office window. My workday began with the cleaning of the bathrooms and getting the building ready for the day. Once the building was ready and the students began arriving for the day, I turned my attention to working on the sermon I’ll share at the North Wayne Mennonite Church on Sunday. I usually preach there on the first Sunday of each month and have been working through a series about living as the Lord’s servant. Each message in the series has looked at a different person in the Bible who is specifically called the Lord’s servant. Some of the character studies in this series are of people who have called themselves the Lord’s servant and some of them are called that by others in the text. For me, the fun part is that this list of people is so varied that it gives great hope for any of us to be able to live as the Lord’s servant if we would commit to doing so.
In preparing for this next Sunday, I spent the day with Hannah who prayed that God would “look upon your servant’s misery and remember me.” It is good to know that this servant of the Lord could call out to God in the midst of her misery and expect God to not only hear her but to accept her as His servant. There are a lot of things about her pursuit of God that stand out to me, including her willingness to promise to return her child to God if He would just give her one. While that is a very noble vow, if you’ve ever followed and connected the stories beyond the first two chapters of 1 Samuel, the magnitude of making and keeping that vow is enormous. You have Hannah who has endured years of mistreatment and misery as a childless woman in her culture. Her plea to God for a child makes sense. Even her promise to dedicate this child to God make sense to most people, but that is because we don’t take that commitment as seriously as Hannah did. And then there is the atmosphere that she will be sending her son into if she keeps her vow. On the surface, sending her son to live and serve within the house of the Lord sounds like a win-win — she loses the stigma of being childless and her son grows up away from the rivalry that exists in her home. But then you get a glimpse into the lives of the people he will live with — the priest Eli and his sons. Sons that were so wicked that God’s first message to Samuel is that He is going to judge the household of Eli and his sons. As you read about the wickedness within the house of God, I suspect that many of us would be second-guessing a decision to send our firstborn into that atmosphere. In fact, we often renege on our commitments based on unfavorable circumstances far less severe than that. We promise one thing but then we make excuses for why we don’t keep that promise. We justify why we don’t keep our word by pointing to the misconduct of others. Yet one of the big lessons of Hannah as seen through her life and the life of her son, Samuel, is that God takes our promises seriously even if we don’t.
Today’s photo was taken of one of the many songbirds that kept me company as I spent time with Hannah today. It serves as a reminder of God’s commitment to keep His promises. But perhaps that is one of the reasons we struggle to keep our promises — we don’t trust God to keep His. Many, if not all of us, would be severely tempted to pull our child out of the atmosphere that Hannah discovered she had placed her child into. Yet Hannah continued to trust God as she maintained a commitment to keep her promise to God.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- God sends the rain on the just and unjust alike. Sometimes that is a blessing and sometimes it seems like a curse — depends on whether we need the rain or not.
- God calls each of us to live as His servant.
- Before we dismiss the possibility of being able to live as the Lord’s servant, it would be helpful to learn from the lives of those the Bible identifies as such.
- In the Bible, the Lord’s servants are as different from one another as any of us are. In fact, for the most part the only common trait is a decision to be the Lord’s servant.
- Living as the Lord’s servant changes who is in charge of our life.
- When we agree to let God be in charge, we must trust Him with everything.