Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lessons from Samuel

Today I was fed at church and while I was there I couldn't wait to come home and write a bit about what I kept chewing over in my mind...

My daughter, Shasta, was the one who got me involved in a Tuesday morning group at church. This next couple of years the women are reading through the Bible, Genesis to Revelation with a weekly guest teacher who shares on the previous week's reading. We've had some great teachers and wonderful handouts and I've been very impressed with how stories that I grew up learning... stories of Joseph... stories of Abraham... stories of Moses... have so many lessons to offer to us! I've really enjoyed hearing from the different speakers who have brought fresh insight. I think one thing I have valued is that I hear what they've dug into in the chapters and I know I've read it myself many times and I hear such new insight and connections that make me eager to get home and read the next week's chapters to see if I can come up with my own fresh insights!

After that first hour of listening, we break into smaller groups and share with each other... and it's so neat to meet lots of women who really truly care about living for God. They care about their personal growth and being genuine and becoming the best daughters of a living God that they can be. When my own mind wanders... when I feel led astray by some desire that isn't what God has for me... and I join up with these other women, I once again feel that tug in my heart and I commit once more to letting go of my self-centered wishes and take hold of the joy that comes when you know God has called you and you are following Him. When you know God has a plan for your life. When you pray with others and are filled with a fresh spirit.

Well, that's a long introduction to what I wanted to say... which is today's Bible lesson was on the first book of Samuel. I cannot overuse the word inspired here, trust me. Today's guest teacher did an amazing job with presenting the themes of this book and how they apply to each of the main characters... Hannah, Eli, Samuel, Saul and David. We took a close look at Hannah, the barren wife who longed for a baby and made a vow to God that if she was to bear a son that she would give him to the priests for a life's service. The "close look" was at how if Hannah had not spent all that time being barren... had she not hurt and longed for a child... had she conceived easily... she would not have made that vow. God's plans are simply amazing. One mom said that she could see herself making the vow, and not being able to give her child up later... I appreciate that honesty. I know how much I adored each child of mine and how crazy I am over my grandchildren... if I put myself in Hannah's place, I imagine how bitter-sweet seeing the baby's first tooth was... watching a baby learn to stand and take steps... my heart would be breaking with every monumental step. What Hannah gave was such a gift to us. Samuel was an incredible man. But what stood out to me was, if Hannah hadn't experienced such pain, she wouldn't have made the vow and she wouldn't have given us Samuel. The entire teaching was wonderful, but I am just sharing about that bit on Hannah because oftentimes I wonder why I have to experience such pain in life. And it does help to know that a Sovereign God has a plan for every heart break... every moment that hurt... I can trust my Sovereign God.

Then there was that other moment at the Bible study... that reached deep into my soul... a list of similarities between the lives of David and Jesus Christ. At first I glanced over the hand-out, remembering that we also had a list of similarities between the lives of Joseph and Jesus Christ. Then I wondered. What would the list look like... if it was my life being compared to Jesus Christ? Now, no, I realize I am not an amazing prophet or chosen one of Israel... but... seriously... go there a moment. When my life is finished, if someone who knew all about me... all the details of the years of my life... what would they write down in a list of similarities between me and my Savior, Jesus Christ? Well... of course I wasn't born in Bethlehem, am not of the line of Jesse or any other tribe of Israel... I am not a literal shepherd, priest or king, I have not had a King try to kill me, never entered Jerusalem, seen the Ark of the Covenant.... but, have I been chosen? Filled with God's Spirit? Ridiculed by my brothers? Have I gathered followers? Been tested? Humbled myself before God? And these things rushed through my head and I wanted more. I want more. I want to let go of self-centeredness and become a better follower.

When I was a little girl, my mom would say, "I'm not going to be here forever!" I don't know what prompted that phrase... if it was her wishing for grateful children or her desire to see us become more independent. I actually have imagined what my own children could write or say of me some day... and I've always hoped it would go something like, "When I was young my mom would say, "Some day I wont be here and I hope that you will look back and say of me 'My mom... no matter what happened, she kept going back to the Bible... she kept turning to God.'" I want a little more now, though. Yes, I want to be known as someone who kept turning to God, no matter what happened... but I don't want to just survive this life, I want to live it... fully... for God.

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