Letting Go

1 Samuel 1:21 The man Elkanah and all his household went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and remain there forever; I will offer him as a nazirite for all time.” 23 Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; only—may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him. 24 When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.”
She left him there for the Lord.

Today’s scripture deals with commitment, sacrifice and letting go. Hannah was barren and in her culture other women ridiculed those who could not have children. So Hannah went before the Lord and prayed that she might have a son, and promised to dedicate that son to God’s service.
Now, for those of us who have had children, we have prayed similar prayers upon their births, thanking God and promising to raise our children according to His truths. But for Hannah, this prayer was more than a commitment; it was a sacrifice. After Hannah weaned her child she took him and left him with the priest, Eli. Hannah kept her commitment, then she made a sacrifice, and then she let go.

Each of our lives have included measures of commitment, sacrifice and even letting go. We have made commitments to spouses, to employers, and to churches. We have made sacrifices so that our children could have more than we had and so that they could be educated and able to live on their own. And we have each had much practice in letting go. Hannah let her child go at around age three, which to me is unimaginable.

I recall when I took my son, Jonathan, to kindergarten orientation. As they separated the parents from the children, my son ran to me, holding on to my leg and begging me not to leave him. Hard as it was, I had to let him go, but I knew I would get him back. When we drove Jonathan to college, his dad and I drove away, crying the whole three hours home. I had to let him go, but I knew I would get him back.

At this stage in our lives we have become masters of letting go, yet each time we give something else up the pain of letting go resurfaces. A few years ago there was a saying, “Let go and let God.” It was a catchy saying, and certainly expressed an age-old truth. Instead of allowing God to be our co-pilot as the name in a popular book from a number of years ago expressed, we need to switch seats and ask Him to be our pilot. We have to let go of the controls and let God fly the plane.

As a pilot we have procedures for transferring control of a plane. I would say, “You have the plane,” and as I let go of the controls, the other pilot would respond, “I have the plane,” taking the controls and the responsibility of the plane, and then one last time I would affirm, “You have the plane.” If only letting go of anxieties and difficulties were as easy as saying, “God, you have my life,” and then just let go.

I read about a parachute factory whose Quality Control Dept could not get the success rate of the parachutes above 98%. The employees were proud of reaching 98% and so regardless of what management did, the accuracy rate did not go up. So a meeting was called and 100 parachutes were handed out to employees and they were told to board the busses outside for a drive to the airport. They were going to jump out of a plane to do a real life test.

The employees were horrified and one blurted out, “but two of these parachutes will probably fail! The manager responded, “Now you see why 98% is not good enough.”

We are too often guilty of giving 98% to God, but holding something back.
Hannah did something few of us could ever do. She gave over her son, seeing him only one time per year as they brought their annual sacrifices and she brought him another robe. Can we learn from Hannah’s story at this point in our lives? Perhaps we can make a fresh commitment to ask God to pilot us through the storms and difficulties of our lives, and then let go of the controls.

Hear now this blessing: God is more than willing and able to care for you and your needs. Let go, and let God take control. Take the name of Jesus with you, and share Him with all you meet. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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