The LORD Calls Samuel
1 Samuel 3:1-10
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 house 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.
A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” 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.”
Samuel was probably a teenager when the Lord revealed himself to this young boy. The scripture from today’s reading tells us that this was in a time period where visions or revelations from God were rare. This word from God apparently caught Eli the priest off guard as well, as he twice told Samuel to go and lie down. It makes you wonder about how close or familiar Eli was with the God that he served. Eventually, on the third time that Samuel goes to Eli, the priest recognizes the voice calling as that of God.
I suppose that most people, both inside and outside the church, have a difficult time believing that God still speaks (in some way) to people today. When I tell people my calling story, I can’t help but notice that they seem somewhat skeptical of my personal encounter with God. Why do we find it so difficult to believe that God can communicate with us through dreams, in prayer, in worship, or through other people? God can also speak to us in ordinary, everyday life situations if we are only willing to listen.
Four years ago when I was struggling with my calling into ministry, I had a very vivid dream one night. I dreamed that I was floating above a small town that was in a much earlier time period. In the center of that town I saw a small white church and a large crowd of people around that church. I found myself gradually moving closer to a small group of men, all dressed in dark suits and white shirts. Something about this scene seemed very familiar and also very comforting. As I floated through the air, getting closer to the men, I began to move at a rapid rate of speed. Suddenly, I came upon a man face to face, who suddenly turned towards me and said, “You will be a pastor.” That man was my grandfather, Cleve Simmons, who I was very close to while growing up. I woke up immediately after he said those words to me. I have never experienced a dream, or anything, like the “vision” from God that night.
I have no doubt that God was speaking to me in that dream. Skeptics would say that I had been wrestling with the call for over a year and that was constantly on my mind. So naturally, when I would fall asleep thinking about God calling me, the odds would seem to favor a dream about that at some point. I can tell you that I have never been as sure of anything as I was that dream in which God used my grandfather, a very religious man, to give me my calling.
There are many in the world today that doubt God’s presence in our lives and in the events going on around the globe. Many people believe that we live in a time period where the word of the Lord is rare and there are not many visions. I would suggest to you however, that the word of the Lord is not rare and there are many visions. All it takes to recognize this is you saying to God, “Speak (Lord), for your servant is listening.”
Prayer: Lord, I believe that you want to draw closer to us in the world that we live in, the world that you created. Help us God, to open up our minds and to believe and have faith that you are fully involved in our lives and in the events of our world. Enable us to be observant to the many signs and wonders that you send our way. Slow down our busy lives so that we don’t miss out on the opportunities you place in our path. Lord, help us to realize that you are much closer to us that we can ever imagine. Speak Lord, for your servant is listening. Amen.