Hannah desperately wanted a child of her own. She received little sympathy from her husband, was persecuted by her husband’s other wife, and was even misjudged by the high priest. Her only hope to reverse her barrenness from the LORD was the LORD. So, she prayed and cried and prayed some more–and the LORD answered her prayer. She received Samuel as a gift from God and promptly re-gifted him back to God.
This seemingly insignificant woman with a very significant problem is an example to all of us of our desperate need for the LORD. But more specifically, she is greatly instructive to all who are Christian parents. Her promise to give her child to the LORD is the proper commitment for all followers of Christ. While Samuel was given to be a Nazirite who became a unique full-time prophet of the LORD, our children are gifts that also ought to be re-gifted to God. They should be raised and instructed in such a way that their lives are dedicated to Christ and His service.
But something often happens to us as parents soon after the birth of our child: We begin to forget the nature of this glorious gift. Instead of understanding our role as good stewards of our children, we see ourselves as sole proprietors of them. Sure, we acknowledge that children are a gift from God with our lips, but then act as though we are free to use these gifts according to our own good pleasure. We hold too tightly to our gifts. We seek to mold these gifts in our own in image. In the worst case, we neglect to give these gifts what they need for true life.
But if we to take Hannah’s example seriously, and we really want to re-gift our children to the LORD, what does that mean? Here are five practical challenges/thoughts about how to give our children to the LORD:
1. Remind yourself daily that your child is a gift, and you are a steward of God’s gift. This is the mindset of the Christian parent. You do not own your child; the LORD does! Reminding yourself of this fact will help you through the good times, as well as the bad!
2. Dedicate yourself to raise your child in the training and the instruction of the LORD. This is your first commitment and the primary way you give your child to God. It is your full-time job, requiring full-time dedication. This dedication takes the strength of the Spirit, and a commitment to God’s Word and what it says about raising children.
3. Seek God’s will for their future, and not your own. Now this is where it starts to get rough. As parents, we tend to have our own vision for our children: Their future job, where they will live, when/whom they will marry, grandkids, etc. It’s truly silly to think we know better than God, so why do we often act like it? We must take deep into our hearts and minds that God’s plan for our children is so much better than our weak and often sinful ideas.
4. Pray for your child to be used in God’s kingdom service. Dare I say that you plead with the LORD? Beg the LORD to take your child into His service! Unfortunately, if we’re honest, we can end up pleading that the LORD doesn’t take our child into difficult service, or service far away from us, or some service that doesn’t make that much money. Sure, we pray for our children to be saved, but we also need to pray that they will be chosen and used in God’s kingdom in a MIGHTY way!
5. Encourage and train your child to LONG to be in God’s kingdom service. Most parents are pretty good at encouraging their children in lots of other areas–good grades, sports, activities, the road to a high paying job, etc. But are you encouraging and training your children to desire to serve Christ with all of their skills, gifts, and talents? Certainly, our children need the Holy Spirit in order to have this desire and follow through with it. But they also need parents who VALUE service to the LORD and ones who PROMOTE it as a VALUABLE pursuit!
What a radical impact would the next generation of our children have on this world if we intentionally re-gifted them to the LORD and His service?