Friday, May 18, 2012
Giving our Children to the Lord
This past Sunday, Heather and I were blessed with the opportunity to dedicate our third son, Brendan, during our church’s child dedication service. Just as we had done with Micah and Owen, we committed to raise Brendan to know and treasure Jesus Christ above all else. Among other words of dedication, we stated that we would “…release all worldly claims upon Brendan’s life, in the hope that Brendan would belong wholly to God forever.” These words have become so meaningful to us, having been spoken by Pastor Kenny twice over Micah (once at his dedication, once as we removed Micah’s life support and he died) and now once over each of our two living children. In reading the book of 1 Samuel recently, I had occasion to reflect upon the act of dedicating our children to God. In the first chapter of 1 Samuel, we are told that Hannah, despite her strong desire to have children, was not able to do so. Hannah vowed that if the Lord chose to provide her a son, she would “give” the child to the Lord. Once Hannah received the gift of a son, Samuel, she fulfilled her earlier vow. Once she had weaned Samuel, she brought him to the temple, and gave him in service to the high priest Eli, “so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” (1 Samuel 1:22) We shouldn’t be surprised that the Lord looked favorably upon Hannah and Samuel. While his mother Hannah had three more sons and two daughters (1 Sam 2:21) we are told that Samuel himself “continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and also with man.” (1 Sam 2:26). In Hannah’s case, she understood that she received the gift of Samuel only because God had chosen to answer her prayers. She had no “worldly claims” upon Samuel’s life. In fact, whether we dedicate our children or not, and whether we believe it or not, all of our children belong to the Lord. Having lost Micah like we did, we have an acute awareness of how fragile life is and how our children’s lives are truly in the Lord’s hands, to do with as He wills. Do we truly believe that, or are we exerting “worldly claims” upon the lives of our children? As in Hannah’s case, when we dedicate our children to the Lord, it is not as if we are sacrificing our child’s best interests to a lesser objective. Samuel had a tremendous influence on the history of Israel, all stemming from Hannah’s dedication. In dedicating our children to the Lord, our child’s best interests, and the Glory of God, are one and the same.