March 13, 2019

The Real Deal

By: Larry Shaffer

Things I have learned from Amazing Women 

Hannah, Lesson 2 

Hannah is the real deal 

Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with a three-year-old bull and one ephah of flour and a jug of wine and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh, although the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull and brought the boy to Eli.  

She said, ‘O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So, I have also dedicated him the Lord; as long as he lives, he is dedicated to the Lord.’ And he worshiped the Lord there. I Samuel 1:24-28  

At the end of chapter 1, once Samuel had been weaned, Hannah took Samuel back to the priest, Eli, and dedicated him to the Lord for a life time of service. I wonder if she was tempted to pull back on her previous commitment to completely dedicate Samuel to the Lord’s service. Maybe he could serve God while Hannah kept him close to her. Did she really have to give him over for a life of complete sacrifice to full-time service to God as a priest? Hannah was faithful to her word. 

This was visit to the temple was quite a different the previous trip. Consider the contrasts in Hannah’s prayers. In chapter 1, Hannah prayed a desperate prayer and plea to God; She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. Contrast this prayer with Hannah’s current prayer in 2:1; Then Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation”. 

There’s much we can learn from this amazing woman regarding prayers. Her situation changed, and her prayers changed accordingly. There’s much talk in Christian circles today about being “authentic.” There’s truth to it but I sense it gets twisted at times.  Sometimes, Christians use their stance on authenticity as a license or justification for their sin, their weaknesses, their fleshly propensities. They might say, “I’m just being myself.” Let’s be careful with that attitude. 

Learning Alert!  

I don’t want this false view to alter what I see in Hannah as authenticity before God in prayer. I’m not proud of my doubt, my fear, my mind filled with the wants of comforts and happiness. But when I sink low with feelings of fear and pain, I should take them before God and unleash myself before Him. In our weakness and pain, we should be authentic before God. Take it all to God, fully and completely. That’s what Hannah did when she was both sad and happy.  

Over my many years on this earth, I have found that woman, on occasion, have difficulty being totally authentic with other woman. But always, it seems, men have trouble being authentic with other men. Authenticity seems to come easier to women. Do you find that to be true?  This might be an interesting discussion you could have with a few trusted confidants. 

As a Corporate Executive, my wife and I have attended many social functions over the years. Sometimes, we will incidentally split up and have some separate conversations with various small groups in these social environments. Later when we are united, she will often say, ‘why didn’t you tell me that Joe and Kim are having a baby?’ Joe, one of my work associates, never told me his wife was pregnant. I will respond and say, ‘I didn’t know.’ The look on her face is priceless. ‘You work with Joe every day and you didn’t know? What kind of friend are you?’ I smile and she smiles and shakes her head.  

She can find out more about my work associates in one hour at a social function than I will find out in 6 months at work. She has a way of caring and asking questions that I just don’t get around to every day because of the grind of daily work. She has a way of drawing out authenticity that I don’t. It’s a gift.  A wonderful gift. 

I may make excuses about focusing on work and not being transparent and authentic in my corporate life, but when it comes to me and God, I NEED TO BE AUTHENTIC! I should not treat God like one of the guys. I should and I must bare my heart and soul before Him. We don’t need to hang our dirty laundry out before everyone else, but we should before God. He knows it all anyway. Being authentic draws us toward Him with humble and sincere hearts.

How then should I live? 

Help me Lord to be “authentic” before you. Not as justification for my weaknesses and sin but as surrender to you with honest pleadings for your help. Lord, in my despair, hear me, revive me, restore me and answer me according to Your perfect will. Also, like Hannah, in times of joy, don’t let me hold back. May I loudly and boldly exalt You and praise you always. Amen! 

There’s much I can learn from Hannah. 

Discussion Questions: 

  1. How should we dedicate our children to the Lord?
  2. Do you ever hold back your feelings in prayer to God? Should we always be totally honest with God?
  3. What do you think about the concept of being authentic?