One of my favorite stories in the bible is about Samuel. Part of the reason I like him so much is that he pretty much had a role to play before he was even born. His mother, Hannah hoped for a child for a long time. As she grew older, it seemed as though bearing children wasn’t part of God’s plan for her. She found herself bargaining with God (which one of us hasn’t thought of or tired that, eh?). Well, she made a promise to God that if she were to bear a child she would dedicate him to God as a Nazarite (a kind of consecrated, prayerful person who devoted their life to studies of religion or to religious service—maybe like a monk).
Well, she did become pregnant and gave birth to Samuel who went on to become exactly what she promised……….except, a bit more. He became a trusted and sought-after prophet about a thousand year before the birth of Christ and, like Moses, was chosen by God to receive His words in a very special and direct way.
The story of Samuel first discovering his special connection to God came when he was about 11-years-old. He was studying under and tending to Eli as a Nazarite when, one night as he was sleeping he heard his name being called. He rushed to Eli to see how he was needed, but Eli told him it wasn’t he who had called Samuel. After this happened a few more times that night, Eli recognized what might be happening and so he told Samuel to answer the next call with “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” And thus began a long relationship of revelations from God to Samuel that would continue throughout his life.
When do we do this? When do we get a nudging from God and stop for some prayerful reflection about what He is wanting us to hear. Sure, we hear God’s Word at church services probably. Maybe we even take time throughout the week or the day to stop and pray. But do we ever stop to just BE in His presence and listen for what He may want to say to us? Not even filling the space with words or prayers, but just quietly and silently hold space for Him?
We may not hear the voice of God, but perhaps when can decipher something He wants us to know if we close our eyes and be…silently. Maybe He wants to capture our attention in the peacefulness of the newly fallen snow as we stare out into His creation…silently. Maybe if we disconnected from media sources for a short time and opted for a place alone and offered that time to Him…silently, He might have something to reveal to us.
We cannot always hear His still, small voice with the clang of this world and all that it is. Maybe during this class you might find a few moments to close your eyes, breathe, and then offer Him in prayer, the space to come in, to be with you…..you can tell Him in that moment: Speak Lord, your servant is listening.
Wrap it up:
There is a song in most worship hymnals that may be familiar and is also a reflection of Samuel’s story…the words are a profound beautiful answer to His calling us today.
The song is Here I am Lord and the refrain is as follows:
Here I am, Lord. Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me,
I will hold your people in my heart.
I think it is maybe what He told Samuel and continues to tell us…to hold His people, each other, our brothers and sisters in our hearts and love them well.