1 Samuel 3:1-10 says,
The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord for your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Of all the encounters between God and humans recorded in the Bible, this one is very unique.
The appearance of God or an angel delivering a message from God is often accompanied by panic, fear, and / or awe. We see people struck blind, people falling to their face in fear, and people immediately humbling themselves.
In nearly every case I can think of, the person to whom God is appearing seems to immediately understand who is speaking to them.
But Samuel has no idea. He hears his name and, assuming that Eli has called him, goes to him. Samuel’s obedience is certainly commendable, but he doesn’t recognize the voice for what it is, because “Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.”
Is it possible that this very same thing happens to us today? We feel as though God is silent; that we don’t hear from him and perhaps he even has little or nothing to say to us. What if we don’t hear God because we’re not listening for him?
What if we took time to be in silence? What if we regularly meditated on the Bible, and not only that, but read the Bible expecting to hear from God?
This Wednesday, our Junior Youth study is going to be focused on spiritual gifts and what our part is in the church.
Our God wants to speak to us, wants to lead us and guide us, and wants to give us what we need to follow that guidance.
‘But, I’m really not that good of a Christian… surely I need to be better before God can use me.’
While I doubt many of us would say that outright, I doubt that we haven’t thought it before. I know I have.
A. W. Tozer writes in The Knowledge of the
Holy, in his chapter on God’s omniscience (his being all-knowing), “And to us who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope that is set before us in the gospel, how unutterably sweet is the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us completely. No talebearer can inform on us, no enemy can make an accusation stick; no forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to abash us and expose our past; no unsuspected weakness in our characters can come to light to turn God away from us, since He knew us utterly before we knew Him and called us to Himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us.”
While we were still at our worst, God called us to be in relationship with him. That theme stays true for us as we continue our walk with God. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect to serve in his kingdom, he expects us to be willing.
There’s no strength that we can add to God’s strength, no insight we can add to his insight, no love we can add to his love, no skill we can add to his ability, no empathy that we can add to his love for his creation.
I think, rather, that we have this concept backwards. One of the primary ways that God grows us in our faith is by having us stepping out in faith to what he has called us to. It’s saying, ‘Yes,’ in faith to something he has called us to and trusting that he will empower us for that task.
May we, in this new year and always, strive to hear from God and respond in obedience with the very same words as Samuel, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”