Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hannah's Prayer

Hannah, in the Bible, prayed for a child. And after being long barren and daily tormented by her enemy, God gave her her heart’s desire, and in turn she gave the child back to God—leaving him as a young child in the hands of Eli the old priest.
Now, Eli had anything except a stellar track record in the parenting category. As a matter of fact, when the child Samuel was left with Eli in verse 10 of 1 Sam. 1, the very next verse tells us that Eli’s sons were wicked. They weren’t just a little naughty; they were down right bad.
Shortly after the birth of each of our children, we publically took them before the church and dedicated them to God—a giving back, so to speak, of the most precious and valued gifts we’d been given. It was a common practice among our circles in those days, and in our youth, we were very serious, presenting a tiny one to God. But, unlike Hannah, when we returned home, we took the child with us. And they grew and grew—and we did what seemed best for each of them. Then there came a day when each departed out from our care—but never—not ever—from the hand of God.
These days, I’m often reminded of those dedications. When fears for them grip my soul, I am reminded that I did not keep them. We returned them to their Creator, and I must trust His sovereign plan for each day they walk—sometimes in joy, sometimes in pain.
I recall the voice of Hannah and it ministers to me: “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.” There are many things that I do not understand. But, I do know that come what may, they do not walk alone.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winter's Warning

After a long, warm, breathtakingly gorgeous autumn, winter snuck up on me today.

 Winter does that—it kind of sneaks up.
In 2 Timothy 4, Paul—who’d been stoned, shipwrecked, and seized—now lay chained in a cold, dank prison under the Emperor Nero. In his loneliness and anticipation of winter, he beckons Timothy to join him and bring the bare essentials that he knows he’ll need to get through. Though only a few things, they’re worth noting.
“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas...”
Winter doesn’t always come skulking its way into November. There’s a coldness of heart that can capture the soul in a spiritual dungeon. And in the iciness of the moment, we long for a covering—a covering that’s warm, that will protect us. Paul needed a real, seriously warm garment. For the winters of the spirit, that warmth could be a number of things—but it must be warm; it must protect.
“…and my scrolls, especially the parchments.”
During the warm and playful seasons, we might not hunger for the Word—but not in winter. In the winters of my life, I’ve sucked in the words of the Bible—searching—seeking—desiring wisdom, desiring comfort, desiring the very presence of the Holy Spirit.
Paul was wise; he wanted the scrolls early. He wanted them before winter. But, maybe the one thing he wished for the most was Timothy himself. Twice he beseeches him: “Do your best to come to me quickly.” “Do your best to get here before winter.”
Life can carry us down roads we do not wish to travel. Read 2 Timothy 4 to hear the urgency in Paul’s voice.
Winter—the winters of the soul—
Paul anticipated winter and what he knew he’d need to make it through: a cloak, the Word, a dear friend.
And maybe the smartest thing of all is that he knew he needed them before the deep chill. Perhaps he felt the cold dankness of his cell that warned of the coming freeze.
Good advice from a man, close to death, anticipating winter.
—a cloak, the Word, a friend.
Secure them now—because winter has a way of sneaking up on us.