by Stephanie Strom
“All that I commanded her let her observe.” Judges 13:14
The sun was just beginning to warm up the day. She had been working the field all morning. As soon as this last basket was brimming, she would carry the loads to the house and grind just enough of the wheat for their supper that night.
She and her husband, Manoah, lived in a small mountain village called Zorah, “place of the hornets”. It was the time when judges ruled the land and depravity ruled men’s hearts. Israel circled endlessly in their sinful rebellions and idol worship and the true Lord was only acknowledged on their lips when they needed His hand of deliverance. His face they did not seek.
She heard a sound out of place and stopped her work. When she straightened, she was standing face to face with the Angel of the Lord Himself. Stories she had heard of divine interventions and angelic visitations were worthless to describe the majesty she was beholding. Dropping to the ground, she bowed low.
He came with a promise to grant her deepest desire. After all these years of shameful barrenness, she would carry a child! She listened intently to the parenting instructions her son was to follow. This child was chosen to be set apart from the world from the very moment of conception, a Nazirite, holy and disciplined. Perhaps, she took some notes for her son, a list of do’s and don’ts that she and her husband would use as a guideline for parenting and enforce to the letter. She was determined to do her very best to raise him in the manner of holiness.
When the Angel finished speaking, a moment of silence hovered between them. She checked her list as she rehearsed the words again but couldn’t shake the feeling she had missed something important. What was it?
All at once, the words caught a fire in her heart and she understood! With lifted skirts, she ran to find her husband to relay the message. The message from his wife left Manoah lacking some. He had some serious questions to ask the Lord:
“…What are we to do with the child who will be born?”
“What is the child’s manner of life?”
“What is his mission?”
I’m sure we appreciate these honest questions and have prayed the same. However, in our text, the Lord did not answer the questions or even guarantee how their son’s story would unfold. What did the Lord give as an answer instead?
“All that I commanded her let her observe.”
The only answer was the same:
Mommy was to walk the sanctified life.
She was to live obedient as a forerunner to her son’s obedience.
This was the only command given, the only instruction received, but one that would take her an entire lifetime to complete.
The work of sanctification had to begin with her.
Could it be our tendency to primarily focus on the children’s wellbeing with the Lord is slightly off the mark? We are desperate to raise Godly children in this fallen world we live. We desire for our kids to know what to do when they are faced with choices between flesh and spirit. We try to stuff them full with a diet of truth in an attempt to curve their appetites of the falsities of our enemy. We suit them up to their eyeballs with direction, discipline, exhortation and encouragement to help them navigate through their day.
But how can we instruct our children to walk sanctified before the Lord if we have neglected to do this very thing ourselves? How can we teach children forgiveness without asking for forgiveness ourselves? How can we disciple them in the Lord without sitting at the feet of Jesus to be tutored ourselves? How can we tell them to do their devotions and pray when it has been weeks since we have done the same?
This mother had all intentions of raising her child with a Godly set of standards, but the Lord was clear the work of sanctification for her son was to begin with her. What if instead our top priority was to seek His face in the pursuit of our personal sanctified walk before asking for His hand of help we so desperately need? What would happen if we sought first the kingdom of God so He can add the rest?
I found this treasure of a story to be a mile marker for me, a heart check: If I was honest, would my children say their mom strived to be a living example of a life set apart as I walk with my Lord? Do I serve my Savior first before I serve my kids? Above all, is He the only one who sits on the throne as king, and not my children?
What if I have fallen short of a sanctified life already?
Do my past mistakes negate my authority and influence
to walk sanctified before my children today?
Is all thwarted for my children because I have blown it in the past?
Perhaps, these types of questions have floated to the surface for you. I know they have for me, too. Dear sister, where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. Yesterday, we may have blown it and missed the mark, but mercy is renewed for us with every sunrise. Admit your failings and shortcomings to your kids, redeem your stumbling moments as teaching moments of the Lord’s grace and cleaning blood, and walk sanctified today.
In the middle of the world’s mess and cycle of sin
In a place that swarms with harm and confusion
The Lord called one mother to be set apart to Him on behalf of her child.
You are that mother!
May we pave the way of sanctification for our children by walking the example of the sanctified life ourselves as unto the Lord.
(Judges 13, Numbers 6:1-21, Lamentations 3:22-23, Romans 5:20, Matthew 6:33)