Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Woman Named Hannah

God does these little things for me. I went to a friend's house last night to babysit their daughter while they went to a concert. When I babysit, I usually bring a few books from my house that might interest them (because I know that when I was little, I loved new things!). Anyway, one of the books I brought was a Bible story about Hannah, the mother of Samuel. Most people know who Samuel is in the Bible: the priest who anointed the first king of Israel, Saul. But a lot of people don't know about his mother, Hannah, who plays a great example in the Bible.

I had read a few other books to this little girl and then, when she was eating her bedtime snack, she asked if I could read this story to her. I started to read this child's version, and I realized how much I needed to hear that story. I've heard that book many many times since I was a little kid, but yesterday, I just really needed to hear it.

Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah, a good man living in the land of Israel. The other wife had many children, and was very blessed. Hannah really had the desire to have children of her own, but she wasn't able to conceive. She went into a depression and didn't eat; she cried all the time. Her husband felt very sorry for her, because he loved her more than anyone in his family.

Every year, the family went to a town called Shiloh to worship God in the temple. One day, Hannah went into the temple alone to pray to God. She was really upset, and asked God to give her children. And if He granted her wish, she would give her firstborn back to God to serve Him. After she prayed, she was very much relieved and was able to eat again.

What do you know? She eventually had a baby boy and named him Samuel, which means "asked of God." A few years later, after she had weaned him, she remembered her promise to the Lord, and brought him back to Shiloh to live with the priest there. He grew up to be a man of God, and did tremendous works for the Lord. Hannah had other children, and visited Samuel every year at the temple.

How did this really hit me? I realized that every problem and distress that I have, I need to go to God first. I usually go to my parents or a friend first, and there is nothing wrong with that because God gave us those people for those things. But I realized that there is nothing that a human could do in comparison with what God can do. If Hannah had gone to the priest to tell her problems to, then she wouldn't have gotten anywhere. The priest couldn't open her womb! But God could.

This makes me also marvel at how personal God is. He *hears* our prayers. He doesn't have a mail service that delivers our request; there are no priests that have to be trained to make known our requests to God. We don't have to travel to a church or monastery in order to pray. (I suspect that Hannah went to the temple so that she would have some peace and quiet in which to talk to God.) Anywhere we are, no matter what we are doing, no matter how we say it: God hears us.

He answers us too. Sometimes He says yes, other times He says no, but still other times He says wait. We have to trust Him, that He knows how to take care of us, and how to best care for our needs.

Along with trying to be a Proverbs 31 woman, ladies, let's endeavor to be a Hannah-woman. Let's make every effort to make our requests known to God and to rest peacefully and happily in Him knowing that He holds our future in His perfect Hands.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

With A Servant's Heart

From April 15-25, I am going on a missions trip to Honduras with my online school, The Potter's School. It's a group of teens and adults who will be building latrines, leading a VBS, performing health and wellness checks, and ultimately, sharing the gospel. I am so excited, and I hope that I can find some time to post a few extra blogposts before I go. I covet your prayers for the team and the work that we'll be doing; and mostly for the hearts of the kids and parents that we'll be witnessing to. Thank you.

As I'm going into this, I have to remember that I am a servant. It's so easy, especially for me, to get caught up in the moment that I'm doing a good thing, and I forget to give all glory and motivation to Christ and the gospel. I am very prone to think about all the good ways my works can make my life better.

Just tonight, God definitely brought this to my attention. Since I've started specifically asking Him to show me what He wants me to learn every single morning, I have noticed a lot of things I need to work on. But tonight, at my youth group bible study, we were studying Mark 10. A section in this chapter really hit home for me.

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem (on His way to sacrifice His life) and saying things that the disciples could not understand. They always asked Him "What did you mean by...?" after Jesus spoke. In spite of all this, James and John decided to ask of Jesus a favor.

"And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, 'Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.' And He said to them, 'What do you want me to do for you?' And they said to him, 'Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.' Jesus said to them, 'You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?' And they said to him, 'We are able.' And Jesus said to them, 'The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.' And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, 'You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'" (Mark 10:35-45)

Oh my goodness! So easily, I and you can look at James and John and think, "How foolish and naive!" But then again, when we look at ourselves, we do the same thing too. As a Christian, I have been called to serve and follow Christ. And yet I still want to be known for what I do; in other words, I want praise and adoration for my good works. James and John had been called to follow and serve Christ, and they were asking for a favor- and no small one at that.

Being a disciple of Christ is not to get a title or a name- it's not a label. Being a disciple is an action. It's being a servant. The goal in the Christian walk should not be, "How can I be the best Christian in heaven?" No, it is "How much glory can I give Christ?"

It's so hard for me to remember, but it is so so important and true. As I go on this missions trip, I am praying that God will help me to have a servant's heart that wants to bring Him glory and none for myself.

Friday, March 12, 2010

For Spring to Have Sprung

Do you think that maybe God designed nature to make us laugh at our lives sometimes? For example, the past few days have been dark and dreary, cloudy and sometimes rainy. The grass is all brown and full of dead leaves and sticks. It's supposed to rain like this for a while. But I know that at the end, the grass will start getting greener, the leaves will come out on the trees, a few flowers might pop up!

And then, it'll rain again, and there'll be thunder and maybe lightning... and it'll be dark and cloudy again for a while. But after that, the grass is even greener, the leaves even bigger, and the flower buds even more abundant.

Sort of like our lives- every once in a while God rains down on us lessons and trials, trips in the road. But eventually, it stops, and our lives are more enriched, our minds more mature, and our walk with God more fortified.

But we so quickly lose hope when the rain starts. We think that the darkness will never end, the thunder will never cease. If we just looked out the window, we'd see that the end of the Lord is very merciful. We buckle under the weight of the raindrops, we forget that the taller we stand, the fuller we'll grow.

Did you know that after every rain, there is a rainbow? You don't see it every time because the sun has to be at a certain angle, and you have to be at a certain distance for the sun's rays to reflect off of the water molecules in the air.

Yet another one of God's object lessons! After every trial, temptation, and lesson God gives to us, His promises are always sure. His rainbow is always there. Even though we can't see it, it's proven to stand.

It amazes me how thoughtful and detailed God has been in His creation. Such a wonderful thing to be able to see God's work of art, and see our lives. It's like watching an artist paint a picture based on a feeling that you have-- only better.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I've been talking with a dear friend lately about marriage and the time before marriage- what to do, how to prepare, what mentality one must have.

I would love to be married and be a wife and a mother; I dream of keeping my own house and providing for my children and husband. I feel very strongly about waiting for God's Prince Charming to waltz into the dance that is my life instead of walking around looking for the perfect man for myself. I still believe that if I follow God's calling in every aspect of my life and make Christ my true Prince Charming, that marriage, if it is in God's plans for me, will be a blessing.

But I did realize that one thing I was doing was striving to be faithful with the expectation of blessing. My dear friend pointed this out to me. "God will bless faithfulness -- but we mustn't be faithful so we can receive blessing. We must be faithful because that is the least we can do since we have been redeemed from a life of slavery to sin," she said.

I see that I should be faithful only because He was faithful on the cross to forgive me my sins... Not because I want Him to bless me. The fact is He already has blessed me. He has blessed me with Himself. What more do I need? What more should I want? I now will be faithful to Christ alone, and remember that I need to love Him more than anyone else- even a husband.

If I live my life with no expectations, I will never be disappointed or discouraged. I only can expect Christ, because He is the only truth and faithfulness that can fulfill my expectations.

I still pray for my future husband, if he is out there somewhere. I know God has put this desire in my heart for a reason. I still ask God that, if it is His Will, that I will be given the blessing of marriage and motherhood. But now, I look on it as a request, not a necessity- a hope, not an ambition.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"And God Knew"

I was reading my Bible during my daily devotions today; I just started Exodus. I was reading through Chapter 2, and the last verse just hit me. It's a simple verse; not very long-- short and straight to the point.

"God saw the people of Israel-- and God knew." -Exodus 2:25

God knew. Knew what? Everything. The preceding passages were talking about how Israel was weary and groaning because Pharaoh was inflicting them with slavery in Egypt. They had cried out to God in their distress, and He heard them, and knew.

God knew about everything: their physical pain, emotional pain. He heard their tears and sighs. He saw their weariness and discouragement. And He knew.

It's still the same for us, I think. Even though God doesn't generally talk to us through a burning bush, He still hears us and knows. He knows our failures and weaknesses. At first thought, that should make us tremble. But even so, He comforts us and heals us, and when we cry out to Him, He, by His grace, does answer. He knows our sorrows and the discouragement that we feel sometimes when we just can't get it right. He doesn't just hold our hand-- sometimes he picks us up and carries us. God knows how much we need Him. And, praise be to God that He helps us!

Today, I think that God told me that He loves me more than I ever realized, in spite of myself. If God knows everything, and He still loves me... What God could be more amazing than that?

"He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young." -Isaiah 40:11