Priestly Garments

*originally written and posted in October 2007.
Now Samuel was ministering before the LORD, {as} a boy wearing a linen ephod. And his mother would make him a little robe and bring it to him from year to year when she would come up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, "May the LORD give you children from this woman in place of the one she dedicated to the LORD." And they went to their own home. The LORD visited Hannah; and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew before the LORD. ~1 Samuel 2:18-21

When I worked in NICU’s, we always had volunteers from churches that would knit baby hats, booties, and blankets for the premies. It was a wonderful ministry; one that fulfilled the volunteers by knowing that their gifts were being put to good use, and one that blessed the parents when they would see their sick little baby in a cute and colorful cap. Sewing as a ministry. It has been used throughout generations to bless others. I think Hannah’s is the most personal and intimate example; she was, after all, making priestly garments for her own son.

When I think of Hannah I can’t help but grieve for her and the pain she must have felt when she took her first baby, Samuel, to Eli and left him there. I’m sure had it been me, I’d have tried to bargain with God. She so desperately wanted this child, and now here he was, a newly weaned three or four year old, and she’s leaving him at the temple. My heart actually aches when I consider having to do that.

Fortunately Hannah was not like me. Hannah was obedient to her promise. 

But can you imagine her emotions each year as she sewed him a new robe – I love how the NASB calls it “a little robe” – wondering how much her boy had grown in the past year, wondering if this robe will fit well. I suspect when she got to the temple and was able to present it to Samuel, she had a few alterations to make.

I wonder what she said to him as she presented him with his new clothes? Did she remind him of the high calling on his life? Did she just hold him close and remind him of how much she loved him and missed him? Did she try to hold back the tears? Or did she just let them flow, saturating her son's robe with her bittersweet tears?

I think about Hannah and realize that I am so privileged to be a mother. God controls the womb; He opens it and closes it as He desires. Psalm 139 reminds us that “in Your book were all written The days that were ordained {for me,} When as yet there was not one of them.” It was not my timing, or my planning, that brought me my children; it was God’s will that they came to me when they did. 

I would think that when I stood up in front of 3 different congregations and presented my children to be “dedicated to the Lord” it is drastically different than what Hannah did. Or is it? Although I didn’t have to say goodbye to my children and leave them in the care of others, I am to acknowledge that they are not my children….they are God’s children and I am simply a steward of them. After all, isn’t the purpose of bringing children into the world to further God’s plan that the world come to know Him? Part of my job description as a mother is to nurture and encourage the gifts that God has given my children so that they may be used for His glory and His kingdom. 

So next time I am buying clothing for my children, I will remember Hannah. I will remember that although I am not clothing my children in a linen ephod, I am clothing them in “priestly garments” of sorts. After all, we do not need a priest to bring about forgiveness of sins or to offer sacrifices on our behalf. What we need is to raise a generation of young men and women who are not ashamed of the gospel; children who desire that every tribe, tongue, and nation would come to know the saving power of Jesus Christ. 

In that sense, I guess I’m not so different from Hannah after all.

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