Read His Words Before Ours!
A few days ago I was doing my quiet time and was reading in 1st Samuel. I started the book from the beginning and was immediately drawn into Hannah’s story.
As someone who wasn’t sure if or when they would’ve been able to have children, my heart instantly felt for her. I wanted to grab Hannah and tell her that no matter what, I loved her, and I would be there for her.
In the story, Hannah, who has had enough of Peninnah’s (her husband’s other wife) tormenting for being infertile, goes to The Tabernacle, where Eli the Priest was sitting outside. Through tears and gritting of her teeth, Hannah began to pray.
“Oh LORD of Heaven’s Armies,
if you will look upon my sorrow and
answer my prayer and give me a son,
then I will give him back to you.
He will be yours for his entire lifetime,
and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the LORD,
his hair will never be cut.”
Eli, who has been watching this prayer unfold, was quick to assume that Hannah was under the influence of alcohol and told her to throw away her wine. Hannah assured him that she wasn’t drunk, but very discouraged and had come to pray and pour her heart out to the Lord out of great anguish and sorrow. Eli sent Hannah away in peace and asked the God of Israel to grant the request she has asked of Him.
If you dive into the rest of Hannah’s story, you will see that Hannah is given a son, and years later, returns to Eli the Priest and leaves her son, Samuel, with him, just as she told God she would.
I can’t imagine being Hannah in that situation. She loved God, she loved her son, and while she did not want to have to choose between the two, she honored her commitment that she prayed years ago.
This love that Hannah had inside of her, allowing her to give up her son, wasn’t in the flesh, but it was only because of the deep love she had for God and gratefulness for His gift.
When we have this type of relationship with God, we no longer have to love in the limits of our own capacity, but there is this Heavenly realm that we are able to tap into, creating levels of love we can only imagine.
Through her selfless act of worship, Hannah is later blessed with five more children and Samuel grew up to be an incredible prophet, one who later on anoints David to be King. Talk about a proud mom moment!
As we’ve been studying in this Journey Theme, when we accept Christ into our lives, we get His inheritance, and one of those gifts is the freedom to love.
I’m not talking about storge love, love that I have for my daughter,
or eros love, love that I have for my spouse,
or even phila love, the brotherly kind of love,
but, I’m talking about agape love.
Agape love focuses on giving of ourselves, without expecting a return.
It’s the love that God has for us, as His children,
and the love that we have for Him, our Father, and for others.
If I’m being honest, I struggle a lot with this agape kind of love. While I know that I am unfathomably loved by God, sometimes I hold onto that love instead of sharing it with others.
I’ve been hurt by many people in my life because I expected something in return for the love I’ve given them. But that isn’t Biblical!
In His book, The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis “used agape to describe what he believed was the highest level of love known to humanity- a selfless love, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of the other person.”
Agape love expects nothing in return. It’s not natural and it may not make sense, but it’s for the betterment of that person because they, too, are a son or daughter of the Most High.
While we work at loving those around us with the love we’ve inherited from Christ, it’s going to look different for you than it does me. Love doesn’t look the same on every person or in every situation. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is draw healthy boundary lines, as I’m practicing in my life right now. Sometimes, it looks like finding a place to serve at church, volunteering at your local mission, praying out loud for someone on the spot, watching your friend’s children, being silent instead of retaliating in anger, or sharing the gospel.
Whatever it is, pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you, and then go after it, loved one! As you love and serve others, it will change you, and in turn, become contagious, overflowing into all areas of your life.
I’m excited about this, are you?
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!