“The Lord God called to Samuel. He ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am. You called me.’ ‘I did not call you,’ Eli said, ‘Go back to sleep.’” (1Samuel 3:4-5)
This happened three times before Eli realized that the Lord was calling Samuel who did not recognize the Lord’s voice. Each time he heard his name being called, Samuel went to Eli, thinking it was he who was calling him. After the third time, Eli guided Samuel to say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” 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)
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, robo calls, texts, 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. 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 as a religious education teacher for high school students in our parish in Armonk, N. Y. One of the other teachers whose name was Ann befriended 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 invitations over 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. That night, I met the Lord Jesus Christ in a new and very personal way, and my life was forever changed. I was later prayed with to experience being filled with the Holy Spirit, 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.
Are you able to hear the Lord’s voice through the noise of everyday life?