BE TOTALLY AVAILABLE TO THE LORD YOUR GOD
Setting our priorities right is key to aligning our christian lives with Gods will for us. We all ought to put God first in our thinking in order that His plan and blueprint for each of us may be fully matured. Being the temple of the Holy Spirit, all our thoughts and behaviour should reflect the character of the One who dwells within us. Many times, we fail to emphasize to our youth on the need to be totally and freely available to the Lord our God in the early stages of their life span. The youthful stage is the most energetic phase of life and one can only imagine the great exploits that the youth can do for the Kingdom of God if their energies were well directed. By encouraging our youth to become totally available to the Lord, we can greatly help to set up a very solid foundation of service into their lives. The youthful phase of life is the most prime spot in service to the Lord because that is when our young people have not yet become entangled with other responsibilities of life. Often after the youth phase, people begin to take up responsibilities such as marriage which come with a myriad of energy and time-consuming engagements. And yet as a youth, one can be totally available to serving the Lord without having to worry about taking their children to schools, to hospitals, looking for a job to sustain the family, etc. While the decision to serve God may be left to the youth themselves, it must be remembered that the parents play a greater role in directing the course of the lives of our young people.
Here, we are reminded of the life that Samuel, the Prophet of the Lord led, when from a youthful stage became totally available to the Lord. Nonetheless, the dedication of Samuel unto the Lord did not come overnight. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, had to spend countless hours in serious prayer for a son and even before he was born she vowed unto the Lord about Samuel. In that vow, Hannah took complete authority and promised the Lord God that her son would be totally available to His service. We cannot afford to be blind to the pain and heartache that Hannah went through as she vowed to the Lord. Her childlessness was a continued source of sadness especially because of the cruel taunting of her husbands second wife, Peninnah. Ironically, Hannahs pain was particularly more difficult to bear during the holidays when the entire family gathered at Shiloh for sacrifices and worship. There, surrounded by relatives and having no child of her own to hold, she was poignantly reminiscent of her loneliness. In her pain, Hannah did not turn away from God, but turned right back to Him. We are hereby taken back to Abraham and Sarah; and Jacob and Rachel. God blessed Hannah with a son at the peak of her pain. This should be a wake-up call to todays mothers most of whom have been blessed with a baby without going through Hannahs pain.
Moreover, in the ancient Hebrew tradition, when one set out to serve the Lord, he was required to live a separated life upto the age of fifty-five. After attaining the age of fifty-five they were released and allowed to go on to marry and live a normal life in the society. This involved taking some offering to the High Priest that they may be unseparated. However, for Samuel, the Prophet of the Lord, Hannah vowed unto the Lord that Samuel would be available for all the days of his life. It is that type of vow that caught the attention of the Lord causing Him to bring forth from Hannah such a mighty Prophet of God Almighty. As soon as Samuel was weaned from Hannah, who had otherwise wept before God for a child, she gave him back to God. It is this dedication by his mother that caused Samuel to learn the various duties of the Priesthood from Eli, Israels High Priest then. In addition, Hannah did not stop visiting Samuel every once a year with a new linen Ephod that she carefully stitched for him. She was practically involved in a hands-on approach in the life of Samuel even as he grew before the Lord. And the Bible says that, Samuel grew in stature and favour with God and man, at a time when there was corruption in the House of the Lord. He was a godly man who transformed the office of Judge from that of a crisis-military leader, to that of a stable honourable position of leadership. Samuel became a Prophet that stood with stature before the Lord right from his youth. Samuel was very sensitive to Gods Voice and hence became the last and greatest Judge in Israel. Samuel the Prophet, also commanded great respect from the people of Israel. No wonder, the bible says that as Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and everything Samuel said was wise and hopeful. All the people of Israel from one end of the land to the other knew that Samuel was raised and confirmed as the Prophet of the Lord (1 Sam 3:19-20). But, it comes out vividly clear that his mother Hannah, was directly involved in charting the way for Samuel right before conception, before birth, after birth, and during his youthful years. This lays a direct burden on todays mothers to dedicate their sons and daughters to the Lords service even before birth. God Almighty is not about to ask the church to do what He did not already do for her. Jehovah gave us The Jesus Christ of Nazareth who was totally and completely available to the service of the Lord. It is this complete availability that kept off the distractions of this world while allowing Himself to be fully saturated with the Holy Spirit. The phenomenal fragrance of worship that Jesus gave to the Father and atoned for all our sins, only came about as a result of His total commitment to the service of God Almighty. Todays youth must equally be made to understand that unwavering commitment to the Lords service can only arise from their total availability to God. Such availability demands that we sacrifice our lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God. For God to have sent Jesus to die for us on the Cross, He greatly sacrificed His One and only begotten Son. The absence of Jesus from heaven during His mission on the earth, must have been very conspicuous to the extent that the Father and the entire heavens missed Him. Until today, we cannot yet fathom the gravity of God Almighty allowing the Darling of Heaven, the Messiah, to come down onto the earth and get terribly abused by man in order to redeem the same mankind. And if we are to teach our youth Christ-like service unto the Lord, then they too must learn to sacrifice their personal interests for the sake of serving God. By definition, sacrifice here means giving up of something valuable or denying oneself of something valuable or a loss incurred by giving away or selling something below its value. That means that when God in heaven sacrificed Jesus for us, He incurred a loss and presented Him for a value less than His true original worth for the sake of redeeming mankind.
And that is the reason why when talking about the rapture of the church, the bible categorically says, “. . . My mothers sons are angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have neglected” (Songs of Solomon 1:6). In those words, the Lord is saying that being totally available to Him, means being completely sacrificial and hence absent from ourselves. We see the Lords demands for us as being the complete focus on His vineyards and the total ignoring of our personal interests. Through a deliberate ignoring of His personal glory in heaven for our sake, our Lord Jesus practically taught us how to sacrifice our personal lives for the sake of serving God Almighty in heaven. Unfortunately today, most parents are too busy to mentor their youth hence leaving them in the hands of counsellors and psychologists who are always very quick to lead them into ruination. But Gods Word still demands that the parents take complete authority and lead their children to Gods service. When everything in life seems as if it is heading for disaster, there is one thing that we can count on, that God is Faithful and He will see us through. This is regardless of how grey our lives may be, or how dark our future may seem; but our loving and faithful God can restore our hope and redirect our course once again. If there is a message to our young people today, then this is it. That however defiled the youth church may seem today, with all the sinful afflictions it presents, there is still hope that if the young people will turn to God in genuine repentance, He is faithful enough to restore and revive the youth church. The God of Israel is a jealous God who does not intend to share His servants with another. He demands complete undivided attention in a sacrificial act of being totally available at His disposal. Nonetheless, as the youth grow in their spiritual lives, the high calling and exacting standards of God become more and more clear. Well aware that some of the most challenging mountains to climb do not look very imposing from a distance, it is only when one begins hiking up the mountain itself that they sense the steepness and difficulty of the ascent. Likewise, the steepness of Gods calling through complete availability in holiness only becomes clearer as we embark on the ascent of faithfulness. It would do the Lord a great disservice if I did not mention this right at the onset of our youth becoming available to the Lord.