Isn’t this exactly the best thing a mother could do for her child – lend him or her to the Lord? Whether our children have come to us by much prayer as in Hannah’s case or whether they have come in the natural course of life or even if they have come to us by other circumstances, the Psalmist tells us “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” (Ps 127)
In the truest sense, they have been lent to us. We are to love them by first by meeting their needs for care and instruction and then by launching them into their own adulthood. We hope for them to be successful in the world, be good citizens… be good neighbors, spouses, parents. We want them to make it – and without too much suffering. Make us proud and give us grandchildren. And before too long, we have taken possession of those who have only been lent to us.
It is an easy trap, really. We don’t mean to go there but it is easy to make our children an extension of us.
What if we could hold Hannah’s template in mind: “as long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”? For all we would wish for our children, is there really anything better we could give them except to daily (or more often, as needed) “give them” back to the Lord? To see them through God’s eyes – His plans, His calling for them?
Hannah prayed for her son. I am certain she never stopped praying for him. Every year she made and brought him a new ephod. Every year a personal reminder that he belonged to the Lord.
My parenting would have been different. In fact I can only write about this because it was in many ways my own failing. But, I am reminded, “His mercies are new every morning.”