Being asked to give our best...
Since Jackson was very little, we've felt in our hearts that he was our "Samuel". We've prayed from nearly day one that Jackson would clearly hear the word of the Lord in a way that would far exceed expectations for his age or station in life. In many cases, that's exactly what happened. Once, when he was six or seven, he sat up out of a near-sleep state to wearily tell his mother "Mom, I think God's saying that if you worry about buildings or people, you'll get neither of them. But if you don't worry about buildings or people, you'll get both." Zing. Not bad for a sleepy six year old prophet.
A few days ago, Lenny or Tracy LaGuardia (I forget which one...you know how it is after people have been married for a while, they sort of meld into one entity!) was talking about offering our children to the Lord for His service. They said "Samuel was actually taken to the temple and dropped off there - it cost his mother everything for him to be in the service of the Lord." This morning I was reading that very passage. Join the story here as Samuel's mother delivers him to Eli, the priest, when Samuel is about two years old:
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 ."
Reading that, I began to reflect on giving Jackson to the Lord...something we've always said we've done with our children, and I believe we have to the best of our understanding. Then something in the next chapter hit me like an arrow. It's set in the context of the wickedness of Eli's sons - they're consistently stealing from the offerings and conducting themselves like barbarians in the temple, even though they're priests. In that setting, we read of an annual interaction Samuel had with his mother.
I Samuel 2:18,19
But Samuel was ministering before the LORD -a boy wearing a linen ephod. Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.
The thought of Hannah, Samuel's mother, seeing him once a year...and lovingly sewing him a little robe for each visit...showed me the cost that she paid for her son to be one of God's. That's not to say that God is expecting us to drop our kids off somewhere to be raised by someone else - but I think there is a lesson about open-handedness with our children here. They are not our own. They are not even their own. If truly consecrated to the service of God, they belong solely to His purposes, which may mean a call that leads them to the far ends of the earth. If so, and if they're of age to make that decision rationally, then ours is really not even to bless it, let alone complain. They do not belong to us, nor themselves. They belong to the service of the King, and must do His bidding.
The upfront cost of raising Godly children is high. You pay in a variety of ways - in holding a high standard for behavior, in living with your children possibly not understanding why your families mores aren't like those of their friends, and even with loneliness of possibly seeing them once a year because they're serving in a distant place. The payoffs, however, are phenomenal.
1 Samuel 2:26
And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men.
1 Samuel 3:19-21
The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD . The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
Kind of makes you wonder what more a parent could want? A perfect ACT score? A soccer scholarship? None of these are bad, but they're not the voice of God in your child's ear. Pursue the greater things.
One more thing - lest you think Jackson's the only one we've felt has an affinity for these things...perhaps soon I'll gather some thoughts about Grayson and Zion as well. Both have similar 'prophetic forwards' written in the front of their life book.