After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, "As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. 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. 1 Samuel 1:24-28
Hannah desperately wanted a child and prayed fervently for God to grant her request. In passionate prayer, she "poured out [her] soul before the LORD" (v. 10). She knew that every child was a miracle from God, not simply the product of a biological function. If God would grant her request, Hannah promised to "give [the child] to the LORD for all the days of his life" (v. 11). God finally gave Hannah a son, and now it was time to make good on her promise.
Hannah took her son, around three-years-old, and left him at the temple to live his life for the Lord. There had been tears as she prayed for a child. You can bet there were more tears that day as she left her son and made the lonely journey back home with empty arms. It's one thing to make a promise; it's another thing to keep it. But Hannah kept her promise even when it hurt.
John and Betsy were one of the first couples we met in Pittsburgh. They were fellow Oklahomans, and we bonded quickly. When their daughter, Lauren, was in high school, she wanted to take a lengthy summer mission trip to a difficult part of the world. Letting her go was not an easy decision. As they struggled with this, I remember Betsy saying, "When she was little, we dedicated her to the Lord and told him to use her in any way he wanted. Now we have to keep that promise." Today Lauren and her husband serve the Lord "undercover" in a country on the other side of the world. It's one thing to have a nice baby dedication with family and friends. But, parents, are you willing to follow through on your commitment? It's one thing to make a promise; it's another thing to keep it.
Father, we want our children live for You. Help us not to restrict their service by being overly protective or possessive. Keep us from keeping our children from following hard after You. Remind us that as much as we love them, You love them more. Use them for Christ's sake. Amen.