I am back from a wonderful trip to Nigeria where I made many new friends. It's time this week to resume our series on women of purpose in the Bible, and this week we will look at Hannah's story in the opening chapters of 1 Samuel. I did a search of all my Monday Memos, and I am surprised that I have never written about Hannah before this, but I have taught from her story many times, so now it's time to write her story as well.
Hannah was one of Elkanah's two wives, and we are told that Elkanah loved her more than his other wife named Penninah, which was small consolation for Hannah who was childless. The stigma of not having children was so overwhelming then that Hannah was almost inconsolable over her condition and her rival wife used her child-bearing ability to irritate Hannah and perhaps to try and win Elkanah's favor. This situation drove Hannah to her knees as she sought the Lord for relief from the burden she had to bear. As she sought the Lord, she made an interesting vow:
“Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head" (1 Samuel 1:11).
Even though she was childless, she was surrendering to the Lord what she did not have. She abandoned her motherly instinct to help shape her child's life ("no razor will ever be used"), refusing to put her hands to try and mold what would come forth from the child in the way of gifts, calling, and purpose. It is a magnificent faith gesture that Hannah gave to God what she did not have, and what she was believing Him to give her.
Like Hannah, you may be waiting for your purpose, and you see others around you who are finding and flowing in theirs. Perhaps God is asking you to yield your purpose to Him, to abandon any tendency to shape it according to what you think looks best, before you know what it is. I did that as I waited for many long years to be released into my purpose. I vowed that I would go wherever God wanted me to go and say what He wanted me to say, and that vow has led me to Africa. My purpose hair grew in a way that God desired, and I have not tried to comb, color, or fashion it - I have just let it grow in the way that God wanted it to grow.
GIVE IT TO THE LORD
I did not choose my work in Africa; it chose me. God had something special in mind for Hannah, just like He did for me, but it required both of us to seek Him and surrender to His will. It involved tearful expressions of anguish and pain that were all part of God's plan. God gave Hannah a son, and He gave me a purpose. Both the son and my purpose grew to be something neither one of us could have imagined beforehand. Perhaps the same will be true for you. If so, it all starts with giving to God what He hasn't yet given to you, and promising not to try and comb your purpose hair whenever it starts to grow. We will return to Hannah's story next week, but in the meantime, have a blessed week!