02Jun20 - Preacher Diary
Nurse your Baby
It might take a miracle to get some baby, but it will take the mother to nurse that miracle. If she should fail, that miracle could die, prophetic though the miracle had been. Often, we invest intensity to procure a miracle, and celebrate it with more intensity and noise, but not always have we watched over that gift with the same dedication. Every miracle is often human participation in divine intervention. Where the human element fails, miracles also often fail, despite having come graciously from God.
Hannah was a good wife who was unfortunate to have been childless. Worse still, she shared a husband with a very pestilent mate who tormented her yearly for her condition. One day, during the annual family pilgrimage to Shiloh the spiritual headquarters, she had a miracle. Eli the high priest prophesied peace upon her and she left very assured. A season later, a son was born; a son with a very unique name, Samuel, which meant, “God has heard” or “Heard by God.” This was how the mother put it: “Because I have asked him of the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:20). Baby Samuel was an evidence of answer to prayers; a token of God’s faithfulness, a miracle from God. Hannah’s years of tormenting barrenness were over at last.
A season later, it was time again for the annual pilgrimage to Shiloh, to that place of her recent life-transforming miracle; but this time, she makes an excuse to her husband:
22 But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever.
23 And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him (1 Samuel 1:22-23).
Strangely, her husband promptly supported her proposal to skip Shiloh in that season. What kind of husband was that, who would support his wife to not be in the house of the Lord? What husband was that, aiding a wife’s ungrateful withdrawal from the place of her recent miracle? What can be more right than being where the ark of God is? Where can be more correct than the house of God, the place of the national high priest, that place of transforming miracles where barren women become mothers, against all odds and mockers!
The husband said to Hannah, “Tarry UNTIL thou have weaned him.” He was mindful, it seemed, that “the LORD establish his word” which had been spoken the year before. That word had brought the child, but the word still needed to be ‘established.’ The establishing of that word was to depend on Hannah, not on the Lord who had given the word.
It is one thing to have a Samuel, it is something more to nurture him up. God may give a Samuel, but God will not also breastfeed that child. The conception and birth of Samuel may take divine intervention, but the nurture and care of that seed will take deliberate human dedication. Unfortunately, through human indifference or carelessness, mothers sometimes lose precious Samuels that they had conceived through remarkable prophetic intervention.
There comes a time when even Shiloh has to wait, although it had been the source of the miracle child. The child procured through Shiloh can still die while chasing Shiloh unwisely. God may give a miracle, but God will not nurture it. Each mother has to breastfeed her own baby. That is something that a proper mother cannot delegate, not even to her own mother. A mother can lose the child she submits to another’s breastfeeding, also because every child bonds with who feeds it.
Glorious as Shiloh might be, Shiloh can sometimes become its own distraction to some Hannah, not every woman; tragedy from stupid religiosity. Nothing wrong with going to the place of the ark, the place of the prophetic high priest, the singular place to which everyone streams annually, but glorious Shiloh can sometimes become a distraction to strategic mothers, not all mothers. Hannah had a prophetic baby to feed. Not every other woman her kind of burden in that season. She had to make a choice.
There are things that everybody can do, which will be done whether or not you are there; there are other things that nobody else can do but you, and they will die unless you are there to attend to them. It is wise to not pursue what everybody can do while you tragically neglect what only you can do for you. Nobody can breastfeed your baby as you.
Thank God for discerning and supportive husbands who are not more religious than they are discerning; who do not mind the face of Eli in Shiloh more than they mind the face of Jehovah in heaven; who do not mind the sacrifice they would take to Shiloh more than the sacrifice they nourish at home. Elkanah supported Hannah to stay back to nurse the baby, that the Lord would “establish his word.” From creation, not every word that God spoke got eventually ‘established.’ Strange. It was not because God failed or lied, it was because some Hannah got so full of traditional holy journeys that she neglected the word that had been given. In chase of newer words, she lost the precious words of yesterday.
The season Hannah stayed back was crucial to whatever Samuel was to become. If Hannah had been so ‘thankfully’ busy at Shiloh as to neglect the infant Samuel at home, she might have lost him, and the world might never had known the prophet that Samuel became. Who then would have anointed the first kings of Israel? Maybe Israel would then have needed to hire Philistines to anoint Saul and David!
This is January 2020. Another year has been born with its peculiar visions and infant dreams from God. Soon, holy Shiloh will come calling again with its endless feasts and traditional crowds. Take time to nurse your Samuel. May you not not bury another Samuel by December, only to beg again in another January for another Samuel, in agonizing wordlessness taken for demonic drunkenness by priests too shallow to see the depth of your pains.
And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it (1 Kings 20:40).
God will give you the child you have asked, but God will not nurse that child for you. Sometimes, even Shiloh, with all the miracles it gives, can be a distraction to a Hannah in her season. May she be wise to then not follow the usual crowd on the usual path. Shiloh might have fetched a miracle in the past season, yet God may not be sending Hannah back there this season.
God may give a child, but God will not also breastfeed that baby. Hannah… Shiloh… Elkanah… Samuel… happy new year... Nurse your baby….
From The Preacher’s diary,
January 11, 2020.