Awake again?


God called again, “Samuel!”—the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, “Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am.” That’s when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So Eli directed Samuel, “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, ready to listen.’” Samuel returned to his bed. Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak. I’m your servant, ready to listen.” (I Samuel 3:8-9)

Samuel is eager to respond to the voice he hears. Why? He was simply trying to fulfill his everyday tasks, ready to learn what he could as he went about his routine in the temple, in service to the priests. Sometimes we get a little confused as to what we are to do with what it is we are hearing - we think we hear one thing, but could it really be something else? There are probably many times we hear God's voice, but because we aren't sure of the source, we go to what is familiar to us - as Samuel did when going to Eli. His was the voice he was most familiar with - to go to Eli was a natural response. Some of us get the impression someone is speaking to us - but we don't know it is God himself pulling us toward himself in order to reveal himself in or through us. We go where we are most familiar - friends, family, small group members, a counselor. Not an unrealistic response when you really think about it. We use them as the sounding boards - bouncing what it is we are "hearing" in our heads until we feel we have come to a place of clarity.

I don't necessarily think this is wrong, but sometimes God just wants us to respond directly to him - to answer him with, "Speak, Lord. I am ready to listen." The idea of speaking directly "with" God is frightening to some, but it is the plan God has for each of us. Notice I did not say it was us speaking directly "to" God, but "with" God. Sometimes we initiate the conversation - at others God does. Either way, it is a conversation. If one party speaks and the other just sits and listens - it is a lecture! If both engage, it is conversation - sometimes filled with good cheer and warm feelings, other times with hurt, sorrow, and the words which express how deeply we need each other. God desires direct and frequent conversation with us, and I am grateful he doesn't stop with the first call! Some of us take a little longer to figure out it is his voice calling us - others will get it on the first try. The good news is that God calls and keeps calling until we finally hear!

At first, God may initiate the conversation a little more than we do - until we become more comfortable with this idea of listening to his voice and hearing his revelation. Little by little, we grow "comfortable" with picking up the conversation right where we left off, anytime and anywhere. I have a good friend who is like that with me - we always just pick up where they left off, like no time has passed at all. God wants this closeness with us - entering into relationship with him isn't for the lazy or half-hearted. In fact, if we look at Samuel again, we see he arose from restful sleep to respond - not once, but three times! That is a pretty amazing thing, considering he was likely a teenager! I don't know about you, but when I finally get asleep - something escaping me as I age - I really like it when I can stay asleep until my rest has been reached. 

When I awaken in the night, one of the first thoughts I have is to turn my attention to listening. Sometimes I only hear the faint whirring of the fan overhead, but at others I hear words of a psalm or song beginning to fill my heart, or the needs of a dear friend or family member beginning to bring me to the place of prayer. Either way, it is in listening that we discover the moment of revelation God intends for us. Maybe God has been calling to you a little more frequently these days and you may not have been as "aware" of the voice you were hearing. Next time you hear it, try doing as Samuel did and saying, "Speak God. I am listening." You might just be surprised what conversation might just ensue in your 'readiness' to listen. Just sayin!

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