February 5, 2024
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It was Christmas Eve a long time ago, and we got an emergency S.O.S. phone call from a school principal that we knew in Patterson, New Jersey. She actually had promised to supply Christmas toys for some of her students who were burned out families, and I think at that time Patterson was one of the arson capitols of the country. Actually, she had come up short and it was Christmas Eve. So - this emergency call was asking if we could help.
Well, I was pretty thrilled to see our kids respond. They dropped everything and started digging into their old toys for things to give, and then came the fire engine. It was my oldest son's favorite. It was this big, new, bright red Tonka fire engine. And with both hands he carried it upstairs and extended it to me to be put in the Christmas bag. And I said, "Oh, son, are you sure you want to give this? I mean, I don't want you to feel bad about this tomorrow." I think he was almost offended. He looked at me with those big, blue eyes and he said, "Dad! Isn't this what Jesus coming here is all about?" Oh, man, I melted. You see, even at his young age, my son knew that even your most precious possessions really belong to the Lord and are to be held loosely, whether they're toy trucks or the children who play with them.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hug Them Tightly, But Hold Them Loosely."
Our word for today from the Word of God, it's from 1 Samuel 1. It's about a mother who could not have wanted her child more. Her name is Hannah. She has suffered many childless years, frustrated years. She gives God a desperate prayer, "Lord, give me a child." And He gives her a glorious answer in the person of a baby - Samuel. She says in verse 20, after the baby comes, "I will name him Samuel because I asked the Lord for him." Then in verse 22, it says, "Hannah did not go up to the temple. She said to her husband, 'After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord and he will live there at the temple always.'" She wants him to be raised for the Lord's service by the High Priest.
Verse 27: "I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord." Man! Hannah loved her child dearly, but she held him loosely. You know, I think many of us Christian parents can say, "Whatever You want, Lord, about everything we have except maybe my son or my daughter."
You see, it's one thing for our children to need us; it's something else for us to need them too much. Had Hannah needed Samuel too much, she would have restricted God's training, and God's movement, and God's plans for his life. Without realizing it, we often end up standing in the way of God's best for our kids because, well, we might lose their attention, or their closeness, or their help that we need. Or the identity that they give us. Maybe our dreams for them are different from God's dreams for them. But we continue to press our expectations, maybe even using spiritual language to do it.
It's so easy to let our children become an extension of our ego, our hopes, our dreams rather than letting them simply be God's servants. Maybe you even have a child God is calling into His service and you're kind of standing in the way. We just dare not forget that our children are God's property trusted to us. We dare not hijack them from His service to be in ours.
Oh, love them deeply, but don't hold them back. Hug them tightly, but hold them loosely.