Since it is the Christmas season, travel with my through this illustration.
Tis the season for giving, and you remember that illustrious gift you've been begging your parents to bestow upon you for months. For our purposes, let's call it a puppy. You promise them that if they give it to you, you'll do everything! You'll walk it, feed it, and housebreak it, even clean up the results of that process...Then, you receive that gift, and it's AWESOME!...so awesome, that you forget your end of the bargain, causing your parents to take care of said "puppy" for you. Because once you received it, all you wanted to do was hug that puppy tight and never let it go...avoiding the hard end of your bargain and leaving your parents disappointed and saddened.
Can we apply this to our walk with God? Why yes, yes we can.
And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow. 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. 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. And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young. And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there
(1 Samuel 1:21-28 KJV)
So, most of us know this story. Hannah was married to Elkanah, who also had another wife that bore children, but she could not. This caused her to cry out, praying and begging God for a child. Now, a lot of study can be done on this scripture, and many revelations can be found, but I want to focus on what happened with Hannah after she Conceived and bore Samuel.
You would think that Hannah's automatic reactions would be to offer praise and prayer to the Lord for His fulfillment of her desperate prayer..however, you will notice, that is not quite what occurred. When she finally received her gift of a son, and Elkanah declared it was time to go worship the Lord and make sacrifices, Hannah did not take this as an opportunity to dedicate her son to the Lord as she had promised...instead she decided that she would first wean him before fulfilling her promise to God.
Now while I understand that this might've been a "health of the baby" issue, I think it was deeper than that. I think Hannah made this decision not just because she wanted to properly care for and nourish her child, because frankly, she gave him up when he was two--there's not much difference between the amount of care needed for a new born or a two year old (though it may be in different areas). I believe that she simply did not want to let him go. She enjoyed having her son that she had longed after for so long, and when she finally received him, her promise to God to give Samuel back to Him just looked impossible. So she avoided her promise, and subsequently, did not enter into worship of the Lord as Elkanah did.
How often do we do this same thing? We pray and pray and pray and pray some more that God would reveal something to us or give us something in our lives, and promise to give various things, or maybe everything, back to Him if He'll allow us to receive it...but then, do we really always make good on that promise when the time comes?
I don't think we do, or certainly at least not as often as we should, and this can have scary effects. When Hannah didn't carryout her promise to give her blessing back to God, she failed to worship Him and spend time in His temple. Don't we do the same? We've made a promise to God, and the conviction in our hearts is so strong, that we avoid church, church people, and God altogether to keep from having to confront that disobedience.
But just because we ignore it, doesn't mean it's not there.
We have to realize our fault, and step out like Hannah. We must begin to give God what is His, and give back to Him the new life He so freely gave us by surrendering that new life to Him. It is when we do this we can re-enter His temple and make sacrifices of prayer and praise that are pleasing to Him. For, as the Lord says through the prophet Isaiah:
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
And until we rid ourselves of disobedience, until we give to God what we have promised Him, our hands our full of bloody sin that prevents us from worshipping Him, as it did for Hannah.
Whether it be a certain part of our day, a friend, a significant other, family, or even...all of yourself, whatever you have promised to the Lord (as you asked and received the gift from Him) you MUST give back to Him or you will forever be unable to harness the power given to you along with the prayer that He answered.
You can hoard as long as you want, but if you do, you'll always live with half of what God intended.
Do you want to hoard? Or do you want to harness the manifest power of God?