Knowing when we hear God’s voice is a major challenge for most of us. Our lives are filled with continuous noise in today’s culture. Television, radio, I-pods, robo calls and e-mail boxes stuffed with spam — all contribute to a cacophony of noise that tends to drown out the Lord’s whispers to our heart and spirit.
Samuel did not recognize the Lord’s voice the first time he was called. He thought his elder, Eli, was calling him instead. Each time he heard his name being called, he went to Eli, thinking it was he who was calling him. It wasn’t until the third time that Eli realized that the Lord was calling Samuel, as he guided Samuel to say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:1-21)
Samuel went on to become one of the great prophets of the Old Testament. “The Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.” (1 Samuel 3:19)
Do we recognize God’s voice when he is calling us or asking us to do something?
When I was in my mid-30’s, I started to serve in the religious education program for high school students in our parish in Armonk, N. Y. One of the other teachers whose name was Ann started to befriend me. She was a noticeably joyful person and began to invite me to various prayer meetings, conferences and other spiritual related events. After declining each of her several invitations over a period of several months, she started inviting my wife who agreed to attend a Life in the Spirit program at a nearby parish being conducted by some nuns from Scarsdale. The program took place over five evenings from Sunday through Thursday.
My wife asked if I wanted to join her but I initially declined indicating I had a brief case full of work. Each night when she came home, I noticed how happy she seemed to be. On the fourth evening when she walked in the door, she was absolutely radiant. Then she said, “You know I think I could forgive almost anything of anyone.”
I thought to myself, “Wow! I have to check this out.” I told her I wanted to join her the next evening even though it was the last evening and I had missed the four previous sessions. The following night, I met the Lord Jesus Christ in a new and very personal way, and my life was forever changed. I later experienced the release of the Holy Spirit in my life, and I have been trying to walk every day since with the Lord in all the venues of my life – family, work, social and ministry.
Like Samuel, I was not recognizing the Lord’s call when Ann was extending me all of those invitations. It was what I saw God doing in my wife’s life that helped me to respond to his call in my life.
“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)