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When God Chooses Not to Rescue You

psalm-20-4

Moses had it good. He had a wife, a couple of kids, and a steady job that gave him plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors—alone. It gave him time to ponder, reflect, and pray. Moses was content, I’m sure.

Then God showed up in a most flamboyant way. “Moses, I’ve got a mission for you. I want you to go to Egypt and rescue my people. They are suffering.”

Moses didn’t say no, but he offered every excuse he could think up as to why God should go away and choose someone else. God said, “Moses, I chose you. Go!” (This is my simple summation. You can read the Bible words for yourself in Exodus 3:1-4:17.)

Fast forward a bit. (See Numbers 11.)

Moses is now leading God’s rescued people through the desert to the Promised Land. The people are tired and cranky. They are especially unhappy with the food, so they start to complain. Moses decides he’s had enough. In fact, he has a meltdown. A mo-ment. (You know the kind.) In utter exasperation He goes to God, not with a polite request, but with a bold demand for relief:

“Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’  I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.  If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.” -Numbers 11:11-15

His prayer made me laugh. My interpretation: “Lord, I don’t know what I did to make you angry, but surely it doesn’t deserve this slow and tortuous sentence of death by whiny toddler-adults whose lives I am not responsible for. I’m done. Kill me now.”

God chose to ignore that request. Instead he sent Moses some help.

I find that comforting. Sometimes God gives us hard assignments, missions that will push us to our limits and then some. We may be tempted to quit. If we choose to continue on though, knowing it’s what God wants us to do, we may start giving God all the reasons we can think of as to why He should choose to pass the assignment on to someone else. Then we may start begging for rescue, and if that rescue doesn’t come, we may start feeling picked on and betrayed.

But God doesn’t rescue us from the assignments He’s given us. He hears. He sees. He knows how we’re feeling and how deep the struggle is. But He wants us to finish the work, and He knows that deep inside, we really want to finish, too. (Come on. Admit it. You know it’s true.) We want to end triumphantly, hearing our God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21). And so, instead of rescue, God sends some kind of relief.

Psalm 20:1-2, a psalm David wrote for facing battle, says, “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.”

God answers. He protects. He helps. He supports. He gives us all we need to carry on. There’s no rescue required. We don’t need rescue from the missions He gives. We just need some God relief. We need to remember that when He sends us out on assignment, He helps us complete the task. Instead of pulling us out of the distress of it, He helps us through to victory.

Psalm 20 continues along this theme. Verse 4 says, “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” When our plan is to complete the mission, to help others and honor His name, He’ll give all the help we need for that plan to succeed.

Lord, victory is the desire of my heart, for their good—and mine—and for the glory of Your name. Thank You for seeing my struggle and for sending all the support and strength I need. I will carry on for You. You are my God and I love You. Amen.

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Progressing through Hurt with Hope

Progressing

“Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression.” -Deuteronomy 26:7

I like Deuteronomy 26. It shows a common progression through life – something we all experience, yet all in different ways. It also reveals the hope that comes from trusting God through it all.

As we travel through life, we all experience times of “misery, toil and oppression.” The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt. Most of us experience different kinds of troubles, trials, and pain. If we’re wise, though, we cry out to God through these times, knowing He will hear our voices and deliver us at just the right time. He did this for the Israelites – then He did it for them again and again. He has done it for His people throughout history. He has also rescued you and me from one thing or another all through our lives. Ultimately, He’ll come a final time to take us home to heaven where all suffering will go away for good. This recurrence of pain on earth will end.

Back to life’s progression. 1) We experience some kind of suffering. 2) We cry out to God. 3) He rescues us – in His time . . . at just the right time. 4) “Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household” -Deuteronomy 26:11. We praise Him. We thank Him. We celebrate His victory on our behalf.

But that’s not all.

Verses 12 through 15 talk about living faithfully for God after He rescues us. We follow our celebration of God’s goodness and our freedom with obedience and by reaching out to others who need rescue as well. Moses told the Israelites to care for the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless, and widows. We can ask God to show us who to strengthen, encourage, and comfort in His name.

And then, (yes, there’s another then) when we least expect it while we’re still living on this earth, we’ll probably get to go through the whole process again because, as painful as it is, each time we go through it, cooperating with God’s Spirit, crying out to God, He’ll draw us closer to Him. He’ll make us more like His Son. He’ll use our experience to build new skills that we can use to minister to others more effectively. He’ll reveal His glory in and through us . . . again.

You’re probably wishing I’d have left at least the first part of that last paragraph out. Me, too. But as I struggle through a season of crying out, I’m trusting that all I’ve written there is true. Our God is in control. He sees. He hears. He uses all for good.

“You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in obedience to him, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws—that you will listen to him. And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands. He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.” -Deuteronomy 26:17-19

We have declared that we will follow Jesus no matter what. God has declared that we are His treasure and He will keep His promises to us. This is what really matters whether we’re crying out, rejoicing, or serving others in His name.

I thank You, Lord, for Your continued interest in me. I know You will use every painful experience for good. In You all is redeemed. Please work in and through me as You want to for the glory of Your name. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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Life Preserving God’s Way

Luke 17-33

“Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” -Luke 17:33

In how many ways do we try to preserve our lives?

  • Scrapbooks
  • Journals
  • Mementos
  • Strict Routines
  • Safe Choices (no risks)
  • Shrines to the Past
  • Refusals to Let Go or to Try Something New
  • On-line Friendships (the comforting illusion of never saying good-bye)

I think I must confess I tend to be a life preserver. A memory keeper. A chronicler. I love taking pictures and journaling memories. I love keeping in touch with friends far away, hearing what’s new in their lives. I’m also a big fan of predictable routines.

Is that always bad? I don’t think so. Some things are worth preserving in some form when we can. In several places in the Bible, God told His people to practice rituals or build monuments that would help them remember. He knew and still knows that memories of what He has done for His people build trust and identity. They also give God’s people the opportunity to pass the story on to the next generation so they can enjoy knowing and trusting God, too. There is a time and a purpose to save: when it reminds us of what God has done, when it reminds us of who we are, when it reminds us from where we came, when it helps us to love or to teach. Without memories, there is no identity, no attachment, no meaning.

Just before Christmas last year, I found some old e-mails I’d printed out and kept many years ago. My grandmother had told me to write down cute things the boys did and said while they were little because otherwise I’d forget. Instead I kept copies of the daily e-mail messages I was sending to my mom. (This was before Facebook, text messaging, digital photography, or camera phones; e-mail was the new, great thing, and I was so thankful for it.) I was writing the messages because we were separated by a full continent, and I wanted my parents to know their grandkids. I kept copies as a simple way of following Grandma’s advice, but I never reread them until the end of last year.

And then I laughed myself silly, wondering as I did how I survived raising kids. Mothers of littles, you are heroes! As I consider each of my grown sons, I can testify, just in case you’re tempted to doubt, it’s worth every melted M & M staining the carpet, near death of a small rodent rescued just in time from testing a homemade parachute, and Brer Rabbit superglue incident broadcast by speaker phone to a room full of strangers.

If you don’t believe I mean this, let me remind you that my husband and I are preparing to adopt a sibling group and go through it all over again (hopefully minus the stains, rodents, and superglue—I’m trusting our new additions will come up with something surprising and new just as each of our boys did in turn). Raising kids, helping them reach their potential, watching them grow and mature—always worthwhile, no matter what. I’d be willing to raise mine again, but they’re doing just fine where they are . . . and so, as God is leading, my husband and I will raise some more. (I thank you for your prayers.)

Life Preserving Gods Way

I think that’s the key here. Preserving what was and what is as it is takes energy. Jesus wants us to use that energy to follow Him instead. He doesn’t want us to preserve what we’re going to lose anyway. He wants us to live! Just as I’ve raised my kids and they are living their own lives, I must continue to live mine. Do I enjoy the occasional visit with stories and pictures and memories? Yes. But my home is not a shrine to what was. It is a place where people live, now, doing whatever their hands find to do in Jesus’ name. We need to view our churches and work within our communities in the same way.

We can’t go back into the past. We can’t take the past into the future. We have to let go. And when we do, we get to enjoy all the new adventures Jesus is leading us into—ultimately, in Heaven with Him.

In any moment, all we try to preserve may be gone forever. If that is all we have, then we’ll be left with nothing when that moment comes. But moments devoted to Jesus are preserved—by Him—for all eternity. We can trust Him to save what matters as we live every moment for Him.

Jesus, thank You for this warning. Help us to live for You now, faithfully following wherever you lead. We’re entrusting our past, present, and future to You. You are absolutely worthy. Amen.

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Waiting, Ezekiel, and What Really Matters Now

I’m sorry I haven’t had much to say lately. I’m in a weird writing place. That’s not a complaint; it’s a statement of fact. Life is getting ready to change, so I’m preparing for its changes. I’m in a waiting place, praying the prayer of waiting. I posted a few thoughts about that last week. Here are a few more:

Prayer of WaitingThe prayer of waiting is both a prayer of preparation and a prayer of submission. It is both a prayer of hope and a prayer of surrender. It’s the prayer we pray when we’ve done all we can do and must leave the outcome in God’s hands because, for us, there’s nothing left to do but pray.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that my husband and I are preparing to adopt a daughter from foster care. We prayed before we began the process. We prayed as we completed each task. Now we’ve done all we can do but wait and pray. Our all-powerful God is at work! We are excited—we are impatient. We are learning, again, how to wait.

Preparation: We’re praying God will prepare our hearts for our daughter and hers for us. We’re asking Him to show us anything we might have overlooked—anything else we can do to prepare. I’m reading the newest parenting books–and praying for our daughter as I do.

Submission: Just as we had to submit to the adoption agency: taking classes, filling out paperwork, inviting them into our home, accepting their final decision—the one we’re now waiting for, we’re also living in submission to God. He led us into this process. He led us to this waiting place. Waiting is our service right now. We’re praying while we wait.

Hope: This is a time of great anticipation. We’re expecting a child! A brand new family member will soon be moving into our home. We believe she’s out there waiting for us, too, and so we’re praying for her as she does. And we just can’t wait to meet her! Though wait we will—for as long as it takes.

Surrender: It’s tempting to try to hurry God along right now. Instead we must trust. Voicing that trust is part of the waiting prayer. We believe God will bring this new child into our family at just the right time.

It occurs to me that there’s nothing like the prayer of waiting to help us grow closer to God. Waiting is an essential part of our spiritual development. It teaches us to depend and trust. It reveals a lot about the state of our relationship with God.


I’ve also been reading through Ezekiel for the past few weeks. I’ll finish tomorrow. It’s a long book with a huge message, but it hasn’t generated a lot of devotional thought this time around. To summarize: I’m just so thankful that I know the Lord is God. Have you ever counted how many times God tells Ezekiel, “Then they will know that I am the Lord their God?” Throughout the book this phrase always follows God’s declaration of what He’s going to do to show the people that He is the Lord their God. It’s both sobering and prayer-provoking. What’s He doing or preparing to do in order to teach our world the same?

What’s also clear in Ezekiel, though, is that God goes to great lengths in order to help His people live the best life they can, the life they can only live within His Kingdom. God loves us deeply. He wants to bless us completely. But we have to surrender to His Lordship over our lives. It won’t work any other way. He Is capable and loving and worthy of our trust. Ezekiel shows us that even His wrath is designed to draw us to Him for our good.


Finally, regarding my weird writing place, with the new year came a renewed desire to write more. I think this has resulted in a temporary need to write less. I’m throwing off everything that hinders, prayerfully choosing the activities God wants me to continue, wrapping others up, claiming blocks of time for what matters most. Life is changing, and I’m adapting, anticipating whatever is to come with hope and joy.

Father, thank You for the people who will read these words. Help them through whatever seasons of life they are in right now, whether they are waiting or actively pursuing a goal, accomplishing something in Your name. Draw them close to You. Teach them what they need to know. Lead them wherever You want them to go. Please help us all to throw off anything that hinders us as we pursue Your Will for our lives. You are the Lord our God. We are thankful and blessed. Amen.

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Finding the Meaning in Meaningless

I woke up early this morning. Following my usual routine, only earlier, I got my first cup of coffee, sat down with my Bible, devotional books, and journal, and started my day. I asked God to show me His message for me today. Then I opened my Bible to find this:

Ecclesiastes

Our God has a sense of humor. I laughed right out loud. Thankfully, I know that life isn’t meaningless and that the author of Ecclesiastes knew it, too. At least he’d learned it by the time he finished writing his book. From some of what I read today, though, I think he knew it sooner, too.

In chapter 2, verses 24 and 25, he wrote, “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” Then in chapter 3, verse 14, he wrote, “I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.”

Before these verses, he had written about all of his failed experiments in finding meaning in life. He concluded that wisdom, pleasure, folly, and toil are all meaningless, meaningless, without any meaning at all. Between these two verses, he wrote about there being a time for everything, about God making everything beautiful in its time, about God putting eternity in the human heart. In 3:13, he came to the conclusion that finding satisfaction in life is a gift from God.

And so, if “everything that God does will endure forever” and “nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it” and if satisfaction “is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” then our lives and activities only have meaning and purpose if we are participating in God’s work at His leading. He doesn’t need our help, but He invites us to join in because He loves us. He created us with a desire for Him. He created us with a need for meaningful work, for relevance. We find the second when we seek Him first.

Wait! Haven’t I read that somewhere else? “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”Matthew 6:33. Those are Jesus’ words from His Sermon on the Mount. To find meaning and purpose, we need to seek God and do whatever work He has for us to do. With Him, daily drudgery becomes a relevant contribution to His kingdom. Challenging opportunities become joyful privileges because we know they show our Father’s recognition of our growing maturity. We find our life’s significance in living every day for Him.

Father, thank You for inviting us to participate. Open our eyes to whatever activities You have for us to do. All of life is meaningful when we’re serving next to You. Please find us faithful. Amen.

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Book Review: “Hiding Places”

Hiding PlacesAs I read Erin Healy’s latest book, Hiding Places, I wondered several times, “Where does she come up with these ideas?” In this book, for example, she’s combined an elderly woman and an eleven-year-old girl, both mostly forgotten, ignored, discarded by their family with a homeless man-boy framed for a murder he didn’t commit with the history of some of the struggles of people with a Japanese heritage living in Colorado during World War II with an orphaned cougar cub with a resort hotel that has secret tunnels and, of course, hiding places. Somehow she took all of these ingredients (with a few more I haven’t mentioned) and arranged them together to produce a captivating story with a powerful message—or two.

Healy has a gift for taking her readers right into the heads of her characters, revealing their motivations, so that even when they’re doing wrong, you can’t help but hope things will work out happily for them in the end. I guess you could say she approaches these characters with compassion and teaches her readers to do the same—all while offering a story full of surprises and strange happenings. Healy’s books are always a treat! I recommend Hiding Places to you.

Thank you, Thomas Nelson Publishers, for sending me a complimentary copy of Hiding Places in exchange for this honest review.

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A Snippet from Luke 12

Snippet 1

 

Dear Readers, Friends, Family, People Who’ve Just Stumbled onto This Blog and Who are Just So Welcome to Do So—

I realize my posts this summer have been a little more scarce than usual. Sometimes life gets crazy and steals all the words away. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking of you. I just had to give myself a bit of space through a busy, and sometimes emotional, summer break.

But now we’re all moved into our new home. We’re done travelling for a bit—a little bit. Our cantankerously sweet, little dog has travelled to his final resting place. (Sniffle. Tear up.) Our home-from-college son has returned to his studies. (Choke back tears and smile for his joy–which is our own. We miss them, but we’re so proud of our boys!) Now I’m ready to reclaim the order of my quiet, little world and write again!

I know, I know. Experts say that real writers write through chaos. That may be so for some. Me—I journal through chaos, process experiences, then write, really write, when everything settles down. That’s how I roll. I’m pretty sure I’m still real.

But I’m not really reclaiming the order of my quiet, little world. Instead I’m going to have to learn how to write through chaos. I raised three boys while writing my first book, so I’m sure it can be done. Stay with me as I get around to telling you what’s going on . . .

When my husband and I first became empty-nesters, I thought I’d have hours and hours and hours of time to write. (When the established empty-nesters stop laughing their silly heads off, I’ll continue . . . any time now . . . we’re waiting . . . okay, that’s enough!)

My first clue that those hours of time weren’t going to materialize came when our family scattered. Seriously, my immediate family, i.e. children, parents, siblings, are a whole new diaspora, currently dwelling in seven states, covering three, almost four, corners of the US. This may not be as unusual as I think. But there just aren’t enough hours to spend with them all, so when we find time we visit because we love our people!!! And we savor every moment with them.

Which brings me to the new reason those hours of time aren’t going to materialize:

Soon, we hope and pray, we’ll have another person to savor moments with!

Yesterday we turned in our applications and other paperwork in order to adopt. That means we’re officially expecting another child now! An older child; not a baby. A daughter! And I’m just as nervous about making this announcement as I was about announcing the expected arrival of our biological children. I know a lot will be different, but I’m amazed at how much is the same.

  • We can’t even begin to imagine what life with this new person will be like.
  • We know she’ll turn our lives upside-down.
  • We know we’ll cherish her no matter what because love is a choice and family is precious and each child is a hand-picked gift from God.
  • We cannot wait!

We’ve wanted to do this for a long time. We actually started the process back in Colorado in 2005. But God slammed all the doors shut back then. He knew there was a storm coming, that our energy was needed elsewhere, that maybe we weren’t as ready for this new adventure as we thought we were. We thought those doors were closed forever, but . . .

Now, we feel as if we’re waking up and finding ourselves in the waiting room we didn’t even realize we were still in. We’re noticing that the doors are all wide open now, and we’re peeking through with anticipation, almost disbelief. Can this be real? After all this time, we can proceed and prepare to bring our daughter home!

Of course, we’ve only just started the process, so we’re still in the waiting room. But soon, hopefully very soon, we’ll have a new child! Please keep our family in your prayers.

Sometimes when we’re watchful and ready, it seems the doors will never open, the Master will never come. But how amazing it will always be when He finally does, whether He’s bringing the answer to a prayer, fulfilling a dream, assigning a task, or taking us home.

Father, thank You for sweet surprises. Please keep us watchful and alert, ready to act. Show us Your way—in Your time. Amen.

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Making the Most of God-Given Opportunities

Thanking God for Opportunities“I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me.”1 Kings 14:8-9

I found a gentle reminder in this verse. God gives us opportunities. We choose to make the most of them for His glory and our good—or not. David chose to follow God with all his heart. Jeroboam, the king being spoken to in the above verses, did not. As a result, God did not allow Jeroboam’s family to continue to rule. In fact, a challenger rose up to wipe the family out. (See 1 Kings 15:27-30.)


As parents, we give our children opportunities. We want them to succeed in life. We want what’s best for them. Our children, however, get to choose how to use those opportunities. When they’re young, we offer them healthy meals. They choose to eat them and grow strong (and maybe get dessert when they’re through) or to skip the broccoli, miss out on its benefits, and deal with our frustration. When they’re older, we may offer to help finance their college education. But they’ll choose whether to work hard and make the most of the opportunity or to squander it and fail.

When our children reject or waste an opportunity, we may feel responsible. As we watch our children suffer the consequences of poor decisions, we may wonder if maybe we shouldn’t have offered the opportunity to begin with. But the truth is our children are responsible for their own choices. If they do well, the credit belongs to them—though some of it usually rubs off on us. If they do poorly, that’s on them, too—though, again, fair or not, this often falls on us as well. Thankfully, God knows the truth one way or another—and He understands better than any other.

God gave David an opportunity. David chose to honor God—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite (1 Kings 15:5). God honored David in return, establishing a Kingdom that would stand in spite of the failings of David’s descendants.

Likewise, God gave Jeroboam an opportunity. Jeroboam chose to squander it. As a result, people who read the story sometimes question why God gave Jeroboam the opportunity in the first place. We don’t know the answer to that question. We only know that God gave Jeroboam an opportunity, and Jeroboam messed up. The failure is Jeroboam’s. God’s Kingdom stands without this man.

Let’s go back to that gentle reminder. God gives us opportunities just like He gave David and Jeroboam opportunities. He also gives us the freedom to choose how we will use them. Today let’s spend some time thinking about the opportunities God has given to us. Let’s consider how we’re using them, whether or not we’re doing the best we can with what we have to follow and honor God. Are we people after God’s own heart or are we going our own way? The choice comes with the gift.


Father, thank You for all the opportunities You give to us. Help us to show our gratitude by using them in ways that honor You. Please search our hearts and reveal to us any selfish or wicked ways. We want to follow You like David did. Help us live lives that glorify Your name. Amen.

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Asking the Source Who Can and Cares

Purple and Blue“. . . and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’” -1 Kings 3:5

The story of King Solomon asking God for wisdom has always intrigued me. What an offer! God actually appeared to the new king in a dream and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon, in turn, asked for the one thing he needed most to be a successful king: wisdom.

A new thought jumped out at me as I read the story through this most recent time. God wants us all to ask Him for what we want. Our desires matter to Him. This matters to me.

Like many women, I’m a born people pleaser. My family has started calling me on this. When they ask me what I want to do, I’ll usually say, “You choose.” They’ll get frustrated and insist I choose. They want to know what I want. But what I want is for them to be happy. It’s nice to know they want the same for me.

God wants us to tell Him what we want, too. He loves us and wants to give us good things. If we ask for something unwise, He’ll say, “No,” unless saying, “Yes,” will teach us something. Life is a training ground for eternity, after all. God utilizes opportunities to train and discipline. Asking for something unwise may give Him such an opportunity.

Which leads me to a follow-up thought that came from reflecting on this passage. While verse 5 is the most intriguing, verse 4 sets the stage:

“The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.”

Solomon was at Gibeon when God appeared to him in a dream—after Solomon had offered a thousand burnt offerings. Solomon the brand new king was desperately seeking God’s favor. He wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. He wanted to lead God’s people well. He wanted God’s blessing on his work.

This progression of events says to me that if we want God’s blessing, assistance, and favor in our lives, if we want Him to ask us what we want, we need to spend time in His Presence seeking such.

Don’t get me wrong. We can’t earn anything from God. Everything He gives comes by grace. But He created us to enjoy a loving relationship with Him. When we seek Him, He responds. He listens to our hearts. He gives us what we need.

Solomon was wise before God gave him great wisdom. To find what he needed, He went straight to the Source and stayed to receive the answer he wanted more than anything. His example here is one we’re wise to follow each day.

Father, thank You for caring about our desires. Above all, we want more of You! Call us into Your Presence often. Help us to ask for the things we need to serve You well wherever we are, whatever roles we fill. We love You, Lord. Amen.

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Giving Our Petitions to God

Then Hannah prayed and said: ‘My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.’” –1 Samuel 2:1, emphasis mine

For This ChildHannah’s story is one of my all-time favorites. The Bible only gives her two chapters, but there is much we can learn from this devoted woman of God.

When I read of her misery at not having a desperately longed-for child, compounded by taunts from her husband’s other wife, my heart always breaks for her. When Eli confronts her during a time of intense prayer, accusing her of being drunk, I want to scold him for being so dense: “Hasn’t the poor woman suffered enough?” And then, when she finally bears this child and turns him over to the Lord, I admire her courage at following through on her promise. (If you are unfamiliar with this priceless story, you’ll find it in 1 Samuel 1.)

But today, I’m drawn to something about the story that I usually miss, and I think, perhaps, it may be the whole point. Remember, I just told you, Hannah’s story is found in 1 Samuel 1. The chapter ends with Hannah putting Samuel into Eli’s care for a lifetime of service in the house of the Lord. Chapter 2, however, begins with Hannah’s prayer of joy and praise. Hannah gave up her son, then Hannah praised the Lord.

You would think the prayer of joy and praise would have come when Hannah learned she was expecting Samuel, or maybe a little later, when he was born. Then, you would think putting Samuel into Eli’s care would result in a time of mourning, or maybe another time of petition, asking for more children to replace the one she’s given up. Wouldn’t you think this? I think I would.

But I’m thankful for Hannah’s example here. We often view her as a symbol of hope for childless women—and that she is! She’s also a mentor, though, for all women who’ve ever had the privilege of raising a child or two or more.

You see, we don’t bear children in order to have them—to possess them, to keep them forever in our care. We bear children in order to send them off in faithful service to God through whatever occupation He leads them into! This does not mean we drop them off at our local church for the pastor to raise from the day they’re weaned—like Hannah did. We are blessed to be able to keep our children a little bit longer than that. But, like Hannah, our goal from the day they are born is to raise them to know, love, and serve God as He directs throughout their lives. He gives them to us, so we can give them back to Him.

That’s why the day we successfully launch them is a day to sincerely rejoice! (even if it’s through a few tears.)

And, when this day comes, though we’ll miss our children, we can trust that, just as God blessed Hannah with more children, He will bless us with more children, too—people to love and nurture, projects to complete in His name.

As I ponder all this, I have one more thought to add to this thought. And, as I mentioned earlier, it may be the thought, so I hope you’ll bear with me for just a few paragraphs more.

Hannah’s petition for a child, the way she handled it, can apply to all petitions we may bring before God. When considering what we want or need, rather than considering what these will mean to us personally, like Hannah we can consider what they’ll mean to God’s Kingdom and to our work within it. We pray for things we can develop for the honor and glory of God. We pray for things that will build His Kingdom, drawing more people to Him. Then we care for these things as God provides, releasing them willingly and with praise when it comes time for that. Perhaps this is what it means to give our petitions to God. We ask for what we want or need, releasing the answer to Him even before we receive it, with faithful intentions to use all God provides for His Kingdom’s good.

That is what Hannah did. Let’s learn from her and do the same.

Father, thank You for Hannah’s example. Teach us to consider Your Kingdom and our role in it whenever we present our requests to You. Thank You for the gifts You bring into our lives for a time. Help us to nurture them as You intend, and then release them back to You with joy. Let all we do be for the honor of Your name. We love You, Lord! Amen.