READING: 1 Samuel 1-3, Luke 8:26-56
“Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
1 Samuel 3:10
We don’t know exactly how it happened, but we do know that God called Samuel. In fact, He called him four times before Samuel fully understood the origin of the call. He had been serving in the Lord’s house, but he did not yet truly know God; he knew about Him rather than know Him. In fact, he turned first to Eli when he heard the voice, assuming it was Eli who called. Eli, too, did not at first perceive that it was God calling Samuel, so he sent Samuel back to bed. After the third time God called, Eli recognized that surely God was calling Samuel. With the fourth calling – when God called Samuel twice by name and somehow appeared to him in a dramatic way – Samuel responded with the right words: “Speak, for Your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10).
I’m amazed today that the eternal God who created the world somehow speaks to us to call us to His work. I still can’t explain how it happened to me, but I distinctly remember when I heard in my heart and my ears, “I want you to preach My Word.” I am not suggesting that I heard those words in the same way that I hear my wife when she calls me; rather, those words were somehow louder to me than anything Pam might say. No one else heard the words, but they were so loud to me that they changed my life. I had always wanted to be a teacher, but I set my sights on preaching after God called me that day. Sometimes the Word God calls us to proclaim is difficult – as in the case of Samuel, who had to announce judgment on Eli’s family – but our calling compels us to proclaim faithfully.
Moreover, I love the fact that God patiently, persistently, and personally calls us. He called Samuel by name three times and then somehow made Himself known to him as He called him a fourth time. God could have walked away when Samuel misunderstood the origin of His first calling, but He did not do so. He continued to call Samuel until he understood His voice. In the process, Eli became instrumental in challenging Samuel to listen well and to respond appropriately – not unlike it is today when God calls us internally, but uses others to confirm that calling externally. The Lord was so present with Samuel that “all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord” (1 Sam. 3:20). The God who called Him remained with Him.
Frankly, I need to remember more often the words I wrote in that last sentence. The God who called me remains with me, no matter what I face in life and ministry.
- If God has called you to a particular ministry, remember your calling. If not, talk with one of your pastors about his calling. Rejoice as you listen.
- Thank God that He speaks to us through His Word, His Spirit, and His people.
PRAYER: “God, I’m so grateful that You speak to Your people. Help me to listen and to hear You well.”
TOMORROW’S READING: 1 Samuel 4-6, Luke 9:1-17