The women gathered every first Tuesday in one of their homes to talk about the Lord, to share scripture and life experiences. No deep revelations, just everyday-living thoughts. Lena had welcomed it - until tonight.
Tonight she occupied the rocker in the far corner of the room, hoping not to be noticed. Tonight she didn’t feel very sociable. Tonight her heart was breaking.
Why, God? Why did you have to call my only son to a foreign field? I dedicated him to you at birth and raised him to be a good Christian man, but I never expected you to do this to me!
Lena knew she was being unreasonable, but if God was going to take away her only son, she was going to protest.
As the ladies began sharing their scriptures and thoughts, Lena rocked and sulked. She wouldn’t share tonight. It hurt too much. It’s almost Christmas. In January, Mark was leaving for China. She didn’t want to talk about it.
Lena became alert as Millie read. "’And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger;...’” (*)
Placing her Bible in her lap and folding her hands, Millie scanned the room thoughtfully. ”This Christmas season, I’ve been thinking of Mary the mother of Jesus, wondering how she felt when she looked at the baby God had given her.
“She was honored among women to give birth to the Christ Child. As he lay in that manger, it must have been very sad for her, knowing that he did not really belong to her. She was only a vessel used by God to bring salvation to the world.
“Mary was not forewarned of the suffering her precious baby would endure. She was the mother of the King, but at what cost?”
Lena closed her eyes and rocked as Millie continued. “Other Biblical women had similar experiences. The most celebrated is Hannah, Samuel's mother. She promised her son to God before he was even conceived. How sad for her to leave him at the temple, allowing God to use him however he pleased.”
Millie’s eyes rested on Lena. She knew Lena was hurting, but felt the Spirit nudging her to continue. “When we dedicate our children to God, we're just like Mary and Hannah. They’re no longer ours, but God's to use as he pleases, bringing into their lives whatever he wills. We nurture them, but we don't know what their futures hold.
“Ladies, the hardest thing you'll ever do is place your child on the altar and leave it there. That altar represents to you what the manger represented to Mary.
“Mary was human and no doubt questioned the destiny of her son Jesus. This was not what she expected when she consented to bear God’s child. This child was part of her too! This was not what she had hoped and dreamed would take place in her son’s life.
“We face the same. We sometimes question what God is doing in our children's lives. ‘Why, Lord?’ we say. We want to see good things, happy times, joyful encounters enter our children's lives. Often, that’s not the case.
“We watch our children go through tough times, sad experiences, sometimes pain and suffering, only to realize that God has a purpose in their lives far different from our aspirations.
“When God leads our children into his plan for them, it often brings separation as Hannah experienced, and we question. Some of them will enter the mission field, and we'll seldom, if ever, see our grandchildren. Some will face hardship, and we won't be able to make it better. Some will even die at an early age.
“If we truly trust God, we'll be able to give our children back to him with full confidence that he knows what's best. We'll be able to say, ‘...I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.’” (**)
By the end of Millie’s sharing, Lena was in tears. She realized how selfish she was being. Mark was going to China, but Jesus went to the Cross! Lena surrendered, “Behold, your handmaiden, Lord.”
Her friends gathered around her as Lena yielded to God’s will. Mark will follow God’s purpose in his life, and these wonderful ladies will be there to back Lena when the going gets rough.
A restored Lena was glad she made the effort to come tonight.
(*) Luke 2:7 (KJV)
(**) II Timothy 1:12 (KJV)
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