Dreams... what comes to mind when I hear that word? For some of us, we think about the good, frightening or corky images we have at night while trying to rest. What did I eat last night to make me dream about that? For the rest of us, we think of the things we want to do with our time here on earth. Whether they've started to come true or not, waiting for a hoped end can make our heart sick if it starts to take longer than we expect it.
The other day I was reading a book that mentioned the story of a woman named Hannah. Hannah could not give birth to children. Back in biblical times, not being able to give birth to children was one of the number one things that would cause shame. As if the shame wasn't burdening enough, the other wife of her husband taunted her because of this.
1 Sam 1:3-7
"Every year this man went from his hometown up to Shiloh to worship and offer a sacrifice to God-of-the-Angel-Armies. Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, served as the priests of God there. When Elkanah sacrificed, he passed helpings from the sacrificial meal around to his wife Peninnah and all her children, but he always gave an especially generous helping to Hannah because he loved her so much, and because God had not given her children. But her rival wife taunted her cruelly, rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her children. This went on year after year. Every time she went to the sanctuary of God she could expect to be taunted. Hannah was reduced to tears and had no appetite.
1 Samuel 1:9-1o Hannah ate. Then she pulled herself together, slipped away quietly, and entered the sanctuary. The priest Eli was on duty at the entrance to God’s Temple in the customary seat. Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably.
Sometimes we wonder why our life feels barren. It's like we feel purposeless, food doesn't taste as good, the ministry we are called to feels barren, maybe we feel like don't belong. And we ask God why do I feel empty? Am I fulfilling my purpose? Will I ever have a 'baby'? And if you've ever had anyone tease you about your dream, you probably feel even smaller.
1 Sam 1: 11-20
"Then she made a vow:
If you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain,
If you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me
By giving me a son,
I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you.
I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.
It so happened that as she continued in prayer before God, Eli was watching her closely. Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard. Eli jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk. He approached her and said, “You’re drunk! How long do you plan to keep this up? Sober up, woman!” Hannah said, “Oh no, sir—please! I’m a woman hard used. I haven’t been drinking. Not a drop of wine or beer. The only thing I’ve been pouring out is my heart, pouring it out to God. Don’t for a minute think I’m a bad woman. It’s because I’m so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I’ve stayed here so long.” Eli answered her, “Go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you have asked of him.” “Think well of me—and pray for me!” she said, and went her way. Then she ate heartily, her face radiant. Up before dawn, they worshiped God and returned home to Ramah. Elkanah slept with Hannah his wife, and God began making the necessary arrangements in response to what she had asked.
Before the year was out, Hannah had conceived and given birth to a son. She named him Samuel, explaining, “I asked God for him.”"
Isn't it interesting that God didn't give Hannah a child until she was willing to give it back to God? God waited for her to be willing to surrender her gift back to the gift-giver. When we are waiting to see things happen in our lives, maybe God is waiting for us to develop a mindset and a heart posture of giving everything back to him, before he grants our request. Maybe he wants to reveal destiny to us through prayer, people, and other creative ways before he grants promise. Sometimes he is pruning us so that we know how to handle his gifts. Maybe he is waiting for us to receive instruction regarding the role his gift plays not only in our enjoyment but his glory. There are even times, like Hannah, where God allows us to feel the tension of our dignity being on the line so that we can inquire about his plan. Sometimes the blessing we are waiting for is wrapped up in our decisiveness to be obedient to the Lord.
For those of us that feel like Hannah in some way or form, you will not be remain in this season of barrenness forever! Embrace the wilderness season. God is pruning you so that by the time you are ready to 'conceive' and 'give birth' you are postured to be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Hannah you are being trained, taught and equipped to be faithful in the midst of despair. Hannah you are being met by God so that he can do a beautiful thing through you. In the midst he is fortifying you to withstand the ridicule that comes with obedience to the father.
If you read on to chap 2 you'll notice that Hannah gave birth to 5 more kids. The Lord blessed her 5xs what she was expecting! I wonder how many times Hannah thought about keeping Samuel after he was born. She probably considered it. But she was faithful.
I am so grateful for the opportunities i've had this past July, as well as within the past 6 months. It is the fulfillment of dreams I've had over the past year stretching to a lifetime. I drew a parrellel the other day regarding the timing of God's outpouring and realized that once I had extended another level of forgiveness to someone that hurt me, all this stuff started to happen. Not only that but God knew I would want to share my journey with them so he waited until I was at a certain place before answering my prayers.
He was waiting on my heart to change before he answered my prayers because he knew it would be sweeter. It has left me to pray and ask God, what are some of the dreams you have for me coming up? What do you want to do that I am unaware of. I encourage you to pray the same and share it below so I can be praying for you.