Text: 1 Samuel 3:1-10
In the past couple of weeks, we’ve started exploring the topic of filling in the blank by looking at a couple of major ideas. We looked at God as creator and artist, who created us in God’s image and invited us to be a part of creation. Then we looked at who God is, exploring Moses’ encounter with a burning bush from which God tells him to say “I am” sent me, I am who I am. As we work through the Bible and Hebrew Scriptures, we are going to go from the macro – God, to the micro, us, tonight. Similar to Moses, we are going to look at a passage where God comes and calls someone, but now we will focus on the individual.
Tonight’s story is about a young man named Samuel. Samuel had been a child incredibly desired by his mother, Hannah. Hannah had struggled to conceive, and had prayed to God, saying that if she had a child, she would dedicate the baby to the Lord. Which is what she did, she took her son as a toddler to the house of the Lord, where he became the student of Eli, who was priest. Samuel grew up there. So Samuel is sleeping one night, and he’s woken up by hearing his name called in the dark. He runs to Eli, thinking that’s who called him. Eli, probably wondering why he has now also been woken up, sends the boy back to sleep. This keeps happening, and on the third time, Eli understands that it’s actually God speaking to the boy, and instructs him what to say when it happens again. When God next calls Samuel’s name, Samuel responds, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
When we look at the blanks of what we are supposed to do with our lives, in both the big and the small sense, we find ourselves confronted with the reality that sometimes we are not the ones who will provide the answer, even though these blanks intimately impact our reality. As Christians, we believe that God gives us vocations, ways to use our lives that see added meaning to what we do. Instead of talking about your profession as a job, we’ll use the term vocation, but we also use it to encompass who you are in all aspects of your life. When is the last time you’ve sat, and waited for the voice of the Lord, and said, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening?” as you figure out what career to pursue, or what to do with your weekend?
Now there is another important thing to note here – Samuel doesn’t understand what is happening at first. He only understands through the wisdom of Eli. When it comes to listening for God’s call, we also need to seek the advice of others, to ask for wisdom from those we trust, who may be further down the path of faith than ourselves. This external affirmation can also act as a “check” of sorts, helping us to more fully know and believe we are really hearing the call of God.
I’m now going to invite you to spend the next 10 minutes in silence. It may feel like a long time, and your mind may want to wander. That is why there are pens and index cards, if something comes up in your mid, write it down and then let it go. Try to posture yourself for listening, saying “Speak, O Lord, for your servant is listening.” Try to be open, and listen. Maybe God has something, big or small, to say to you tonight.