1 Samuel 1:9-18 (Part 3) – Leaving Our Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits at the Cross…and Really Leaving Them There!

Posted: November 9, 2017 in Book of 1 Samuel
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1 Samuel 1:9-18 (Part 3 of 3)
Hannah’s Prayer for a Son

I remember several years ago when I had the opportunity to teach one of the lessons from the Celebrate Recovery (CR) manual to the “large group” gathering for that evening’s meeting. It’s the time when the group gathers for worship and to either hear a testimony from one of the members at the meeting or to review one of the lessons in the CR manual. At this particular point, I was in midst of my Biblical Preaching class for my Master of Arts in Christian Ministry degree. As part of the requirements for that class, I had to, of course, preach some sermons. Imagine that in a Biblical Preaching course! During the second half of the semester, I had to deliver three different sermons at three different venues. My pastor as well as the leader of our church’s CR chapter graciously allowed me to preach based on the final lesson in the half year cycle of the manual – Lesson 25, Seven Reasons We Get Stuck.

The point of that lesson is that that there are several reasons that people get mired down in their recovery from their hurts, hangups, and habits. When you are not able to progress through the steps of the program (which is not too dissimilar from growing from a spiritual baby to a spiritual grown-up in the discipleship process), it usually has some root causes that are sourced in our pride. In that lesson, the seven reasons that a person gets stuck in the recovery process are:

1. You have not completely worked through the previous step in the recovery steps.
2. You have not completely surrendered your will and your life to the Lord.
3. You have not truly accepted the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross for you.
4. You have not forgiven others who have harmed you.
5. You are afraid of the risks involved in making the necessary changes in your life.
6. You are not willing to own your responsibility for the problems that you have caused yourself and/or others.
7. You have not developed an effective support network.

When you boil its barest essence, the steps of CR are transferrable to anyone, even if you don’t see yourself as a person who has screwed up their lives in some way. As the old saying goes in CR, if you have a belly button, CR is for you – or something similar to that. The steps of CR are the steps we go through in growing in Christ. Each one, we must do as part of our post-salvation maturation process in Jesus Christ. Just look at the steps of CR (https://www.celebraterecovery.com/index.php/about-us/twelve-steps). Anyone can see that anyone can do this and this is basically how we grow up in Christ. And the seven reasons, people get stuck in CR is the same seven reasons that we don’t grow beyond being spiritual babies in our walk with Jesus Christ. I love CR being a ministry of our church. It is a ministry that meets people where they are at that might be afraid of what church represents to them and then shows them that they are people of value in the kingdom and ultimately invites them to become a valuable part of our church. Some of our most spiritually mature and active church members are folks that are in CR.

But back to the point of my sermon on the 7 reasons that night. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to recovery in CR and to anyone wanting to mature as a Christian is our unwillingness to completely surrender our will to that of Jesus Christ. The illustration that I used for this point was that on stage at our church, we had a large cross as part of the stage set. It was illuminated from within and had this white covering over the lights within the cross. Thus, when on, the large cross gave off this soft, white light. My illustration was that we often pay lip service to giving our will over to Jesus Christ. Often times, we will pray to the Lord that we are giving our problems to him…but not reaaaaalllly. My physical illustration was to appear to be laying something at the foot of that cross on stage and then I walked off stage with my microphone. As I was standing off stage, I said that sometimes we just don’t want to let go of over problems. Then, I didn’t say anything and I snuck back on stage like a little kid trying to sneak past his parent’s room to get to the living room in the middle of the night just before Christmas morning. I went to the cross quietly and picked to imaginary thing that I had left at the foot of the cross and ran off stage again. It was an illustration of how we often do not trust God completely. We want to own our hurts, hangups, and habits. We have too much pride to allow God to be God. We want to be God. We want to hold on to our hurts, hangups and habits. They are our friends. We don’t know what to do without them and are often afraid of the unknown life without these familiar hurts, hangups, and habits. We run back and take these things away from God because we think we are gods. We want to control and don’t really trust God enough to take our problems and work them out for our good.

That’s what I thought of this morning – leaving your problems at the cross and not running back and picking them up. Let’s read this passage, 1 Samuel 1:9-18, once again, now:

9 Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle.[a] 10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.[b]”

12 As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. 13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”

15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”

17 “In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”

18 “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.

In this passage, we see that, earlier, Hannah had been discouraged to the point of being unable to eat. She had made herself sick with worry to the point that probably she was so nauseous that she could not eat. As she was leaving the tabernacle, though, she felt physically different. She returned home well and content, and able to eat again. The change in her attitude and her physical feelings can be attributed to several factors. One was that she was encouraged by Eli, the priest. The other factors were that she prayed honestly and earnestly to God and she resolved to leave the problem with God. Such it is with feeling discouraged. We must tell God how we really feel and then leave our problems with Him. That’s last part is the hard part, most often.

There are two parts to growing up in Christ. First and foremost is accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior. The hard part is making Him our Lord. Asking Jesus Christ into your heart as your Savior is the moment of salvation. Seeking to follow His will for your life in all your decisions is the hard part we call sanctification. Are you trusting Jesus with some parts of your life but still hanging on to your pet things–your favorite sin, your pride, your self-sufficiency. To make Jesus Christ our Lord, we must submit everything, every aspect of our life to His authority. When we trust in Him to take our problems and work them for our good and for our growth in Him. We must not look back. We can’t do that…we have leave it at the cross…we must not look back. Lot’s wife looked back because she did not trust God completely. Things didn’t work out so well for her. We can’t be Lot’s wife. Proverbs 3:5-6 tell us, “For good judgment and common sense…trust in the Lord completely.” What part of your life are you still holding on to? What areas of your life are withholding from God? Finally let God be God. Let your cares at the cross and trust God with them as Hannah did. She walked away with peace and contentment – knowing that God’s got this. We must trust Him with our entire lives. It is only then that we grow in Jesus Christ – when we make Him more than just our Savior – When we make Him Lord too!

Amen and Amen.

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