Give it Up

Yesterday I gave the President’s Welcome address to several hundred parents and students at the Orientation Week for Northwest University. In preaching to them from chapters 1 and 3 in 1 Samuel, I urged the parents to be like Hannah—giving her son to God—and the students to be like Samuel, who learned to hear God’s voice of direction. Both of these biblical characters knew the secrets to successful deep dreaming.

The book of Samuel puts the problem square on the table: Elkanah had two wives. Hannah she was the beloved but childless wife. Peninnah was the “baby mama,” and she constantly and mercilessly ridiculed the beloved Hannah for her lack of children. Perhaps the wicked rivalry would not have seemed so bad except for the fact that Peninnah’s deep dream included being loved, and Hannah’s deep dream included having a child.

Of the women, only Hannah seems to have become fulfilled and memorialized. (After all, how many women named Peninnah have you met? There are Hanna’s in every first grade class in America!) And what was the key to her fulfillment?

Out of her deep misery, Hannah surrendered her dream to God. She promised God that if he would give her a son, she would devote that son completely to God. She gave her dream over to God. That was the key. God knew her sincerity as well as Israel’s need of a godly leader. God saw that she was the kind of person who would follow through. So he gave her a son, and she in turn gave her son to God. As soon as she had weaned him, she took him to the temple and “loaned him to God forever” (1 Samuel 1:27).

Samuel became the greatest leader in Israel since Moses. In him, Hannah’s dream was completely fulfilled. Not only did she have a son, she had a son who completed her deep dream of serving God, her husband, and her people through a noble son. Deep dreamers give their dreams and their destiny to God, and God makes it worth their while.