In 1 Samuel 1-2 we find the story of Hannah, ridiculed and disgraced, distressed and embarrassed by her barenness. But in answer to her prayers born of deep sorrow and steadfast faith, the Lord blessed Hannah with a son. And, in return, acknowledging that her child was a gracious gift from God, Hannah sacrificially gave him back.
As she sings a song of prayer and praise and thanksgiving to God, one clear theme emerges: the sovereignty of the Lord as evidenced by the reversal of fortunes.
“The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who are hungry hunger no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.
The Lord brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.”
~1 Samuel 2:4-7
This reversal of fortunes theme is also used by Jesus to describe the coming of the Kingdom of God.
“The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” ~Matthew 11:5
And isn’t this exactly what God through Christ has done for us? He has turned our lives completely around. He has totally reversed our fortunes.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgression—it is by grace you have been saved.” ~Ephesians 2:1-5.
As a result, we sing today with the mother of Samuel, “My heart rejoices in the Lord…I rejoice in your salvation.” ~1 Samuel 2:1
The family and I are headed down to Marble Falls this afternoon for a wedding tonight at the city’s beautiful Lakeside Pavilion. Jasmine and Brian, two great kids who were in our youth group down there when I was going to school in Austin, high school sweethearts (maybe Junior High, too, I’m not sure), and wonderful disciples of Christ are tying the knot and then heading to Lubbock where he’s stationed in the military and she’s enrolled at Lubbock Christian University.
Jasmine was two-years-old when Carrie-Anne and I first moved to Marble Falls in ’91. When we left for Memphis in ’98 she was nine. When we returned to Marble Falls in ’05 for Austin Grad, she had turned into a beautiful, smart, talented, funny, high school sophomore. She babysat for us. We went to WinterFest together. We cheered her on as she marched and played in the Mustang High School Band. Our girls love her.
We met Brian for the first time in that summer of ’05. And they were already well along in their courtship. Brian’s the most sensitive and caring and kind-hearted and generous young man you’d ever want to know. Very funny. Sarcastic with a dry wit. Self-deprecating at every turn. And he would say he doesn’t know what that means. Hard-working. The first to sign up for a service project and the last to leave. And I’ll forever remember Brian for being king of the duct tape. He put duct tape on and around everything. He used camo duct tape to decorate the door to the storage room in the church youth house. I’ll be shocked if part of his tuxedo tonight isn’t held together in some way by duct tape.
I’ll also be surprised if he’s not wearing the shirt you see in this picture. This was taken in downtown Dallas when I had set Brian up by pointing him out to a street vendor selling roses. I think Brian wore that shirt every other day during the entire two years we were together.
Brian and Jasmine both come from wonderful Christian families. Strong mothers and fathers who submit everything to our Lord. Loving and supportive siblings. Brian and Jasmine are also both dedicated to serving our God and his Kingdom all the days of their lives. And we wish for them nothing but God’s richest blessings as they embark on the rest of their lives together.
Jimmy Mitchell, our youth minister in Marble Falls when we were there, is performing the ceremony tonight. And it’ll be great to see him and his wife, Elizabeth, and their sweet baby girl again. It’s been almost a year. We’re actually all looking forward to the trip. We can’t wait to see all of our great friends and catch up with everybody down there.