Finding God on Gannon’s Campus
“Here I am Lord; I come to do your will.” The response to a call like this has to be heard, so it would follow that someone called before the response.
If a friend calls you and asks you to pick him or her up before the basketball game so that you both may share a meal, and you are paying attention closely, you will be able to recognize the voice and then respond to the request.
If you receive a call from someone whose voice you do not recognize, you will ask again, “What?” so as not to embarrass yourself, and hopefully you may be able to distinguish the voice.
So, it is important that we listen to the voice of the person who calls on the phone so that we are able to know who has called us, and then we respond to the request.
It is precisely the place where Samuel found himself when God spoke to him. Samuel had never heard the voice of the Lord before and assumed that Eli was calling him. Samuel went to Eli to ask, “What do you want?” And Eli turned Samuel away because he had not called him.
On the third encounter Eli recognizes that the Lord may be calling him and so he responds, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
In doing so Samuel now recognizes the voice of the Lord and begins to follow the Lord’s call to serve.
There are a few things that are noteworthy at this point. First, Samuel had never heard the Lord calling him before and so his bewilderment is understandable. Secondly, Samuel is called in the quiet of the night. And finally, it took someone with experience, Eli, to discern the voice and then to have the courage to instruct Samuel.
So, if we juxtapose that to our life how does it all come together? How do we discern the “call” from our Lord?
First I would like to move away from the religious definition of a “call,” as a priestly or religious life call, and place it at the heart of each of our lives, although you may have a call to the priesthood or religious life and I do pray that be fostered.
Have you ever just sat and wondered, “What am I going to do for the rest of my life?” “Will I be married?” “To whom will I be married?” “What career is right for me?” “What is the right graduate school for me?”
Perhaps it is because “me” is the focus of the question. Turn the focus on him, God, and not just in the unfathomable idea of serving God, the Spirit, dwelling far away, but God who dwells in each of us on earth.
The first and most important action that we must surrender to is, “be still.” Not a lazy, “flop on the couch” still, but a moving stillness that requires the willingness to “blow where the spirit wills.”
Then we must be able to listen! If we don’t listen to the voice of God, which can be through any number of sources – friends, family or adviser to name a few – then we may continue to be unsure of our path.
The ability to listen is not so easy when the answer we get is not what we expect. For example, if you are working hard at something and it is not working out, seek the advice of someone who can direct you.
All of our lives God will place people in our lives to support and encourage us and direct us on the path that serves him best. We need to be able to recognize who they are, and that requires a prayerful approach to the situation.
There will also be people in our lives who do not have our best interests in mind, either because of jealousy or envy or they just don’t like us and we have to have the ability to listen to the voice of God in the quiet of the night to discern the truth.
Samuel is called in the night; the night is dark, and there were no street lights or businesses to illuminate the night sky. Just as we are in the dark during our lives about our call and where our dear Lord wants us to serve him, so was Samuel.
Eli was the person who had recognized the Lord calling Samuel and gave instruction as what course of action to take.
Christ asked his early disciples, “Why are you following me?” Why are we following Him? I suppose we want something from him. What is it you want?
In the upcoming months and years we will be both Samuel and Eli, searching and instructing. Take a moment and listen to the call and then respond, “Here I am Lord; I come to do your will.”
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