Ever since I read Suzanne's remarkable mini-essay about Mary in ontherun's blog, I have been thinking a lot about the mother of Jesus. Sunday in church, Mary was much brought up again as we discussed the enunciation and her visit to her cousin Elisabeth. A thing jumped out to me that never really has before.
The teacher commented that it must have been very overwhelming to Mary and Elisabeth to have a glimpse of who their children would become. She rhetorically said, "What would that be like to know that you would dedicate your son to God before he was even born?" Interesting question.
While I was a missionary, the course of study one year was the Old Testament. After we had studied the boy-prophet Samuel, my mother sent me a letter describing his parents and how they had willingly given him to the temple (and thereby God) so that he could basically be raised to be a priest. And while his parents, for the blessing of having a child in their old age, were glad to do this, my mom said, "I have often wondered how Samuel felt about it." Indeed.
These words came back to me as I pondered the rhetorical question posed by the Sunday School teacher yesterday. I think any mother in Israel can relate, at some level, to Mary and Elisabeth and to Samuel's mother. Although the scope may be different, and we may not see in such detail the mission God has prepared for these spirits we raise, haven't we indeed dedicated our children to the Lord?
We pray daily with them and for many the first song they recognize and respond to is, "I Am a Child of God." How often to we go to a blessing to hear father admonish sons to be worthy priesthood holders, serve missions and be married in the temple? Daughters we implore to be sweet and kind and motherly and temple worthy. Pictures of temple and the Savior dot the walls of our homes and our kids bedroom. Plantboy and I have started a "mission fund" for each of our boys and will do the same with the one who is coming. I could go on and on . . . I will spare you; this blog is already lengthy, but you get the idea.
What is is like to dedicate your child to the Lord? It is the hardest and most wonderful work any mother can do. Yesterday in church I saw my tiny two year old bow his head and squeeze his little arms together in his button up shirt and untied shoes and nearly cried for how cute and innocent he is. I prayed with all the feeling in my mother-heart that he would somehow withstand the difficulties that will surely come his way, that he will be strong enough to face every buffeting of Satan, that he will know who he is with such fervor that nothing will shake his testimony. I prayed that I would remember his cuteness and sweetness even when he goes through his really ugly stages and that he would emerge on the other side as a man of God.
Yes, indeed, I have dedicated my children to the Lord. I cannot comprehend the missions and blessings the Lord has in store for them, but how can they fail to be great if they will but follow his admonitions? How can any of us fail to be great?
I will close with an excerpt Nelson Mandela's first inaugural speech, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the World. . . we were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us."
A righteous generation of young men and women dedicated to the True God of Heaven--what could be more glorious than that? May we teach them so well who they are and of the strength within themselves that, like Samuel, when the Lord calls, they will answer, "Here Am I!"