It would appear that when Hannah's womb is opened, it is simply a matter of a tender God working things out in the lower story for a desperate woman, which would be partly true. She gives Samuel to God, makes him a new little robe every year, and God gave her five more children. But there's an upper story going on at the same time. Samuel grows up to be a man who will deal with three distortions in Israel.
When God allows the people to have a king, that's not the way God envisioned the lower story of Israel, but it's not going to change the outcome of the upper story. Even when God allows things that aren't God's perfect will, God will still accomplish God's desire to provide a way back to relationship with God. The BEST way for people to see God is for God to be the king of Israel with no layers of management between God and the people. But God honors our free choice, and allows us to try things our way. Even when God allows us to follow God's conditional will instead of God's perfect will, which is a change to our lower story, we still have to follow God. As long as we do, everything will work out.
Saul misrepresents or distorts God. God's upper story plan is to reveal God's self as just and holy, and get us back through God's relationship with Israel. But people are going to get the wrong idea of God because Saul is misrepresenting God as cruel and greedy. Once we start messing with the upper story image of God, God steps in and stops us. God honors the lower story distortion of asking for a king, but now that it's affecting the upper story plan, God intervenes and makes a change. The upper story WILL take place.
Application tips for this week:
1. We are all representatives of God. The New Testament church is the body of Christ. We represent Christ to others. If we are the only "Bible" some people will ever read, then we don't want to distort the image of Jesus to others. This doesn't mean being perfect, it means not pretending we are! Authenticity is the mark of a true representative of Christ. Phoniness in Christians keeps people from Christ.
2. We need to be more like Samuel who walked with God all the days of his life. In preparation to take our story into our whole community, let's agree together that we're going to trade all phoniness for authenticity; we will not conform to the world, but be transformed by God. We will not misrepresent Christ but portray a pure picture of him that shows acceptance, love, grace, and the offer of life that is truly life!
Director of Youth and Outreach at St. Paul's United Methodist Church AND a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend, an aunt, a god-mother, a volunteer, a woman of faith, and one who chooses to live in joy and gratefulness... Here I write mostly about faith and life - and would love to hear your comments and stories, for I believe that is how we learn and grow together!