It’s that time of year again, a time when I resurrect my old, well-worn, brown notebook, find a blank page, and commence compiling my Christmas list for the upcoming holiday season. Oh, how I miss those days of old, the days of hyperactive, pajama-clad little ones, all romping around on Christmas morning in gleeful anticipation. As a mother, I can attest to the fact that one of the most difficult seasons in parenthood is that time of letting go, the moment of realization that these little ones are only on loan to us, and the time is now at hand to loosen the apron string and allow those precious ones to fly, to accomplish the Father’s plan and purpose for their lives. Not a day goes by that I don’t find a quiet moment with God to thank Him, to sing a private song of praise to Him in gratitude for allowing me the privilege of being a part of their lives, even though our time together passed by far too quickly.
I was pondering the lives of two mothers who were well-versed in the pain of parting. When we meet the first woman, she is “in bitterness of soul,” weeping sore and begging God to open her barren womb and bless her with a son. God would miraculously answer that plea and bless this willing, submissive “handmaid” with a consecrated son, a boy named Samuel, a Nazarite dedicated unto the Lord “all the days of his life,” a son who would join a long line of prophets judging the nation of Israel and leading her in ways of God. I can only imagine the mingling of joy and sorrow Hannah experienced as she entrusted Eli with her precious son, as she let go and said goodbye, being content to see her child only once “from year to year,” bringing him a newly sewn “little coat” as she and her husband faithfully returned to Shiloh to “offer the yearly sacrifice.”
Fast forward centuries later to another “handmaid of the LORD,” a young “virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph,” a woman who also finds herself blessed with a miraculous conception. Her Son, a Nazarene, would be the ultimate, consecrated Child, a True and Better “Prophet” Who would open the door of salvation to all who would willingly bow the knee and accept His gift of life. What unfathomable pain had to be hers as she realized her Son’s purpose was to be brutally betrayed, beaten, and sacrificed to bear the price of the sin of the world.
Two submissive handmaids, two miraculous conceptions, two consecrated sons…but what draws me to their stories are their songs of praise, the words of exaltation that flooded their hearts and could not be contained. Hannah’s song of praise: “My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD…I rejoice in thy salvation,” would be mirrored years later by Mary, who would lift her eyes towards the heavens and sing, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” I can hear the songs of two women rejoicing in the birth of two special boys.
My nest is empty, and my children are well on the road to building independent, fruitful lives, and yes, that parting has caused pain. But may I be inspired by two handmaids to offer a song of praise to the Creator Who blessed me with those precious lives, and may my heart continually rejoice in those children that He has bestowed on our little family.
1 Samuel 1:27 for this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:
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