A MOTHER DIMENSION
May 12, 2002
It’s pretty amazing to look back at the maze of mothers, especially in TV land. One of the moms from early on that I thought was a pretty cool mom was June Cleaver. There is a picture of June. She was the only mother I have ever seen to actually vacuum in pearls. That’s pretty special.
This next mom is another mom that I grew up with, Shirley Partridge. Shirley was cool because she let her kids grow their hair long and she played in a rock band with them. I thought the Partridge Family was really happening when I was a kid.
Another mom also that I was exposed to early on was Carol Brady of the Brady Bunch. She was the ultimate blended family mom. She always had the right words to say. She could always discipline her kids in a fair manner. I like Carol Brady.
Then Happy Days, Marion Cunningham, came along. Marion was sweet and a little gullible but I liked her because she always knew how to handle The Fonz.
Claire Huxtable, sweet, attractive, engaging, she worked outside the home as well, a great mom.
Now in 2002, we have Sharon Osborne. Sharon is the mother of her two dysfunctional children, Jack and Kelly. I will not elaborate on Sharon. She needs our prayers.
When you think about motherhood, all of us realize it is a multi-faceted and multi-dimensional role. It’s amazing all the dimensions in motherhood. It’s time that we don’t look to society. It’s time that we don’t look to this example or that example. It’s time that we look at this multi-dimensional book, the Biblical record that gives us the real skinny on what it means to be an ultimate mom.
As I scan across this audience, and we have thousands of people here this morning, I know that all of the mothers here are not just shooting for average. You want to be an ultimate mom. You want to knock it out of the park. You want to be the one. You can be the one, because God has wired you uniquely. He loves the role of motherhood and he wants the absolute best for your life.
Anytime the Bible gives a lot of ink to a certain character, I think we should press the pause button and study this particular person. There is a mother in the Old Testament that God has given a lot of ink to. Her name is Hannah. Hannah was a very special mom because she dealt with a lot of special people and unique circumstances. I think we can all relate to her, the moms here. I think moms, also, you can download a lot of qualities from her life, because Hannah shows us what it takes to become the ultimate mom.
Let me set the stage for this whole story. This story is found in the book of 1 Samuel. Israel was in a moral tailspin. I am talking about wheels off. They were having some serious problems. They were leaderless and they were rudderless. This was penned during the time of the Judges. Remember Samson, that he-man with the she-weakness, the Biblical body-builder? Samson had just passed away. The whole thing was kind of hydroplaning.
Here is a great principle that you see from God’s word and that you see in life. Whenever God wants to bring up an impactful man or woman, he always uses a Godly mother. In the midst of this turmoil, in the midst of this madness, God taps Hannah on the shoulder and he asked her to be the mother of one of the greatest men to ever walk on the face of the earth, one of the greatest leaders in Israel’s history.
Let’s check out her story. I will begin reading in 1 Samuel 1:2. If you have your Bibles, turn to 1 Samuel 1:2. If not, you can check me out as I read this scripture on the side screens.
Before I read this text, I ran into a quote that I want to share with you. W. L. Caldwell said, “No nation is greater than its mothers, for they are the makers of men.”
That’s true in our culture and it was also true in the ancient culture. Right up front, we see that Hannah was married. But her husband, Elkanah, was not perfect. He was not a perfect guy. I think Lisa married the last perfect man around. That was weak, I know.
“He (being Elkanah) had two wives.” What? One of the things I love about the Bible is the fact that the Bible is real. People all the time these days are saying, “Keep it real, man. We like real stuff. Reality television shows like Survivor, The Bachelor, Real Cops, or the show I referenced earlier, The Osbornes. Keep it real.”
The Bible does not pull any punches. The Bible keeps it real. It tells the good side and bad side of people. Elkanah had two wives. He was a polygamist. He was not perfect. Right up front, you can see that there was some serious trouble in the family. Hannah didn’t really dig the fact that her husband had another wife. I don’t think you would either, moms. He had two wives. The name of one was Hannah and the other was Peninnah. Check it out. Elkanah is the man. You’ve got, Peninnah, one wife, and Hannah, the other wife.
“And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.”
In other words, all Elkanah had to do was wink at Peninnah, and she would crank out a kid. Hannah was an ancient day woman dealing with a modern day problem, infertility.
I want to talk about polygamy for a second. This was an ancient culture. This was way back there. God never blessed polygamy. He never did. He tolerated it, but he never blessed it. Whenever you see polygamy in the Bible, you see consequences. You see problems, as you can imagine. Yet, Elkanah, this polygamist, was a good man. The Bible says that he loved God and he loved Hannah. Hannah had captured his heart.
So you see again, that Hannah was in a pretty tough situation. Her family was not perfect. She had a rival. It was difficult, demanding and very stressful.
The plot clots in Verse 6, “Her rival (that’s Peninnah) would provoke her bitterly to irritate her because the Lord had closed her womb.”
Are you ready for that? Peninnah was just abusing and knifing Hannah in the back because she could not produce children.
In the midst of all the madness and mayhem, Hannah rose above the crowd. Hannah was a woman who had a right vertical relationship going with God. Hannah had the dimensions down. She was vertically connected to the living Lord. In the midst of this madness and mayhem, Hannah, the Bible says, was a woman of prayer.
Moms, being a great mom, the ultimate mom, starts there with prayer. That’s where it begins. It starts with prayer. It starts with connecting with God, with loving him, spending those quality moments with him. This book, literally, is the manual for motherhood, moms. Hannah knew that and she lived it out.
Look at 1 Samuel 1:10-11, “She greatly distressed prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.”
She was praying here for a son. She made a vow and said, “Oh Lord of Host, if you will.”
Circle that in mind or if you have your Bible, circle that. “If you will.” She was saying, “God, it is in your hands. God, not my will but your will. God, I am giving my life to you. I’m giving this desire for children to you. You know I want a baby. You know what I want but I just give it to you. It’s in your will, your agenda, your prerogative.”
That’s a tough prayer to pray, isn’t it? If you are like me, I want to say, “God, I want it now. God, this is my timing and I want it right now. You don’t understand, God. You are not dealing with this stress. I want it right now.”
Hannah, what a mature woman, said, “If it be your will.”
Do you know what Dante said? Dante said, “In his will is our peace.”
In other words, in God’s will is where we will always be the most peaceful.
So she said, “If you will indeed look on the affliction of your maidservant and remember me and not forget your maidservant but will give your maidservant a son. Then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.”
I will give him to the Lord. I will literally dedicate him to the Lord. Hannah did not want a child for selfish reasons. She didn’t want a child to fulfill her unfulfilled fantasies. She didn’t want a child just to dress up in cute clothes. She wanted a child for the right reasons. The Bible says if she had one, would dedicate him to the Lord.
Just a couple of moments ago, you saw all of us pray and talk to all of these families and single parents who are dedicating their children to the Lord. There is nothing as exciting, as exhilarating as seeing that. Obviously, these little ones are not old enough to make a faith decision. Obviously, these little ones don’t understand the implications of sin and the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins and rose again. But their parents do. These parents went through classes and they are saying before God and before this body of Christ, “We are going to bring our children up to follow the Lord. We are going to expose them to opportunities to commit their lives to Christ. We are going to have them in church.”
They are going to shape them and allow God to do so as they use their abilities to give God glory. That’s what they were saying. That’s the exciting thing.
Hannah is saying, “God, I’ll do the same thing. I am going to dedicate my son, if you give me one, to you.” So, she was right vertically.
In Verse 12, it says, “It came about as she continued praying before the Lord.” She kept praying and praying.
I want to tell you something pretty hilarious about the Bible again. She was in a place called Shiloh worshipping. Where is Shiloh? Shiloh is about two hundred miles away from where Elkanah, Hannah and Peninnah lived. Three times a year, they would go and worship.
Have you ever done this before when you were praying? Let’s say on First Wednesday when I give you an opportunity to kneel, and people will pray, if you look at someone praying, they are kind of like this, kind of mouthing words. You know what I am saying. Hannah was doing that and Eli, the head priest of the temple, the guy who should have had the hotline to God, was watching Hannah pray. The Bible says that Eli thought she had just come from happy hour. Eli thought Hannah was drunk. Israel was in such a tailspin, know one even knew where God was. They were so clueless about spiritual things, that Eli finally saw someone praying and thought she was drunk.
Poor Eli, the pastor, his kids were crazy. He had no discernment whatsoever. His two sons were having sex with the women who worked in the temple. They were abusing the sacrificial system. What a contrast between Eli, the priest, and Hannah and even Elkanah. That is a whole other message.
Hannah had the first dimension down that I pray, ladies, that you have down. She was right with God.
A while back I was thinking, there are commercials all the time in television land. I talked about television today and I was thinking, “Why doesn’t the church do commercials?” After all, we have the best product in the world to advertise. I am going to take a quick commercial break. I’ll be right back.
(Video on the upcoming series “On Location.”)
Over the next month or so, I am beginning a brand new series on self-esteem. Our self-esteem, like we have been talking about, comes from this vertical dimension. Hannah had a good self-esteem. A great self-esteem is seeing yourself the way God sees you, nothing more and nothing less. It’s going vertical. We mess up, though, we have a poor self-esteem when we see ourselves the way others see us. I’ll elaborate more on that in a little while.
Hannah was right vertically. She had that dimension down cold. But there is another mother dimension. Not only was she right vertically, she was right horizontally. Because if we are right with God vertically, then all of our horizontal relationships will be right too. She was right in her marriage. Hannah was married to Elkanah. The Bible says that Elkanah worshipped God. He was not perfect. He was a polygamist, yet the Bible says they had a good connection.
Check him out in 1 Samuel 1:3, “Now this man, Elkanah, would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Host at Shiloh.”
As you read on in 1 Samuel, Chapter 1, you will see that Elkanah and Hannah had this great connection. They shared and they talked. Hannah understood something. She understood that the marital relationship superseded every other earthly relationship. Hannah knew her relationship with God was the most important thing. Right behind that was her relationship with her spouse.
Moms, I have got to ask you a direct question. Do you realize that? You might have the vertical thing down cold, but how about horizontally? Do you put you and your husband’s relationships above all the other relationships? Are you kid centric? Do you orbit your lives around your kids, or do you say, “I love my kids, but my husband is the deal. I am going to orbit my life around our relationship.” Sometimes we will do it around the kids, but this first orbit has got to be the connection with your husband. I ask you, moms, how do you think your kids learn about reconciliation? How do your children learn about love and forgiveness? How do they learn about values and stuff like integrity and endurance? How do they learn about the local church? How do they learn from the Bible? I’ll tell you how they really learn. They are watching you. They are watching that marriage, and that marriage speaks volumes to your children. Values are more caught than taught. We are on stage 24/7.
Hannah understood that. Elkanah, in a sense, understood that as well. We, in this day and time, have to understand that. Elkanah and Hannah worshipped together, the Bible says. One of the most important things you can do for your marriage is to worship with your spouse. Husbands, make sure that worship is a priority for you. As I have said many times before, something supernatural takes place when people open God’s word and teach. Something supernatural takes place when you worship in a corporate setting. Be here when the doors are open. Be here and involved in the local church. God will bless your life.
Speaking of worshipping together, let me just say a quick word to singles. Let me do a quick sidebar. If you are single, you might be saying, “This message is not for me. How can I relate?”
Hannah was married to Elkanah. They had a godly relationship. Not perfect, but it was God centered for that culture. The Bible insists, singles and students, that you only date, only marry those people who are believers. Can you imagine being unequally yoked? Can you imagine being hooked up with one person going one way and another person going another way? You can’t worship together. You can’t really share together. You cannot have a deep relationship together in the truest sense.
2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
This phrase “bound together,” a beautiful picture is behind this phrase. It’s a picture of a yoke. You have heard me talk about a yoke before. I’ll talk about it again. A yoke is a big old wooden structure that people used in plowing fields. It had two holes on either side and you would yoke together animals of like strength and of the same kind. For example, you would yoke together oxen, horses, or donkeys. You wouldn’t put a donkey and an ox together. If you put them together, you would be unequally yoked and instead of plowing a straight line, you would go this way and that way.
God says only date, only marry believers. Some of you might be saying, “Wait a minute. Is God being discriminatory? I think if the ACLU ever read this text 2 Corinthians, Chapter 6, they might try to sue God.”
No, God is not being discriminatory. This is not spiritual apartheid. No, it’s not. God is looking out for your best interest.
I am going to throw some words on the side screens. The first word is “intimacy.” One of the reasons that God insist on marrying and dating only Christians is because of intimacy. The deepest part of your life and mine is our relationship with Christ. Can you imagine being hooked up with someone and not be able to share that which is most near and dear to your heart? Can you imagine that?
A while back I was traveling, and I found myself sitting on an airplane beside this guy. He began to talk to me and I thought to myself, “Oh, I don’t want to talk. I need to prepare for this next talk. I just want to kind of zone him out.”
Then I heard him say something and the whole course of the conversation changed. He said, “Yes, my favorite thing to do is saltwater fly fish.”
I said, “Saltwater fly fish?”
He said that and we had that common bond. Take saltwater fly fishing and multiply that exponentially and you have this deep intimacy that God wants us to be able to share with our mate.
The next word you will see is the word “security” on the side screen. Security is another reason why God insist that we be equally yoked. If you are unequally yoked, one party will have one set of plans and the other party will have another set of plans and you will spend your entire life fighting over the plans. As Christians, you exchange your plans for God’s.
Like Hannah, you say, “God, it’s not my will but your will.”
How about harmony? That’s another word up there. God wants us to marry and date only Christians because of harmony. You are going to have some fights and some arguments because we are all sinners. If you have a harmonious relationship, you will have the same source to go to when there is disagreement, turmoil, and dissonance.
The Bible says as Christians we have been given the spirit of reconciliation. When you are at odds with your spouse, you know you can’t let it lie very long. You’ve got to seek forgiveness.
Family is another word you will see on the side screens. That’s why God insist on being equally yoked, family. Childrearing is tough. That’s pretty profound, isn’t it? It’s not easy to be a mom. It’s not easy to be a dad. It’s especially not easy to be a single parent. What do kids do? Kids learn how to play one parent against the other. They learn this game. If you present a unified front, a Biblical anchor, when you say, “This is what your mom feels and this is what I feel. We feel this way because God feels this way,” then you are going to parent in a very effective way.
Conversely, if you have one who is a Christian, they are operating off of this agenda. Here is what the Bible says. You have one who is not, “Yes, you can cheat here, say this to emphasize the point, use this kind of language.” You’ve got some problems.
“Well, Ed, I am unequally yoked. I’m a mom here and my husband is not a believer. What do I do? Do I go to the Bookstore and buy all of your tapes and music tapes and play them in his car and all the loudspeakers in the house? Do I take this Bible and use it like a baseball bat and whop him upside the head? Do I use a preacher voice and start preaching to him that he is going to hell?”
No, you don’t do that. The Bible says you live out a quiet Biblical example before him and that will snap his head. That will show him the difference that Christ makes.
“Ed, I am a single mom. What do I do? This unequally yoked thing, forget that. What do I do with my kids?”
Single moms, I think you have one of the most demanding jobs out there. Our hats go off to you. We have so many phenomenal single moms here at Fellowship Church. We have ministries for you and classes for you. But here is something that I want you to do. I want you to pray regularly that God will multiply your time. He will do it. Also, make sure you are very involved here at Fellowship Church. Make sure that you expose your children to adult godly role models here. God will use them to help bring up your children.
One of my best friends, Mac Richard, was a guy who was on staff for many years here at Fellowship. We helped him start a church in Austin and the church is going like gangbusters. It is called Lake Hills Church. When Mac was in the fourth grade, his father walked in and said, “Mac, I am out of here. See ya.” Here Mac was alone. His mom had three boys, no work and alone. She got a job and she dove into ministry. She exposed Mac and his two brothers to different people in our church and myself along with several other men were actually like fathers to Mac. God used us to build in a lot of masculinity stuff into his life. Today, Mac is one of the best guys I have ever seen, only by the grace and the power of God.
So don’t sit there and say, “Well, I’m a single mom and I don’t know what I am going to do.”
The church is the place for you. Even Hannah knew that. That was a long sidebar. Where was I?
1 Samuel 1:5, the Bible says in Verse 5, “But to Hannah, he would give a double portion for he loved Hannah.”
Here is the scene. They are at Shiloh again worshipping. Back in this Old Testament days, they would give these sacrifices to God. They would give food or animals that would turn into food. When they would do that, some of the stuff would go to the priests, but most of the stuff would go back to the family. When Elkanah would get most of the stuff, he would give a double portion to Hannah. I am talking about all you can eat chicken fried steak with creamed gravy, mash potatoes, cathead biscuits, ice tea in front of everyone. Elkanah was showing everyone that Hannah was his girl. Then to Peninnah he would just give a little bit of salad.
Publicly, Elkanah was saying, “This is my girl. I’m putting her up on a pedestal.” Let me talk to those who are married here. Husbands, specifically, put your wife on a pedestal publicly. Never rip her apart. Never make her the butt of jokes. Never abuse her. Never argue in front of others. What is up with that? Sometimes I have been around couples even in church settings, and they will get into these arguments in front of everyone. Don’t do that. If you have an issue, deal with it behind closed doors. If you still can’t get closure to it, see a Christian counselor. Don’t argue publicly. Build one another up. Put one another on these pedestals. Elkanah did it to Hannah.
Hannah began to pray again, “God give me a son. Give me a son.” God answered her prayers. She became pregnant. 1 Samuel 1:19, “Then they (that’s Elkanah and Hannah) arose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord.”
Once Hannah had her baby, she named him Samuel. You have heard about Samuel before. Samuel was one of the great difference makers in Israel’s history. Samuel was a great man of faith. Here is what she did. For three to five years, the story tells us, Hannah had Samuel. She was mothering him in her hometown. The Bible says that once he was weaned, she then made the 200-mile journey to Shiloh and gave Samuel to the Temple to work there.
What do family experts and psychologist tell us? They say that the most of the child’s personality, in fact, 90% of a child’s personality is formed by the time they are three to five years of age. Don’t you see the genius of God? Hannah gave him to the Lord. That’s what these people were doing down here.
Now, we don’t want your children here at Fellowship Church. Don’t give them to us. But back in this ancient day, she gave him to the Temple, the house of God. I can see it now, about 500 children. No, you keep them. It’s a different day, a different age.
1 Samuel 1:24-28, “Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her and brought him to the House of the Lord in Shiloh although the child was young. For this boy I prayed and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of him so I have also dedicated him to the Lord.”
She was dedicated to God. Because she was dedicated to God, she was dedicated to her husband. Because she was dedicated to her husband, she was dedicated to her child and she dedicated him to the Lord.
“So I have dedicated him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is dedicated to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.”
Samuel, that little boy, worshipped the Lord there. How did he know about worship? The guy is only about three to five years of age. His mom. His mom taught him. He saw the vertical dimension. He saw the horizontal dimension. Because he saw it, he worshipped God too.
So, moms, during the midst of the stress, the maze of motherhood, during the midst of all of this, go vertical and go horizontal. Because when you do that, you will be a mom in a mother dimension.