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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, January 15, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Samuel 3:1–10

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (NRSV)

My second-grade teacher hated to repeat herself. I don’t remember much about her, but I remember that. Her face would get really red when she would have to tell us to do something more than once. I remember the frustration in her voice each time one of us realized she was telling us something we needed to do. Usually it was for us to just listen to her. I imagine that teachers aren’t the only people who have felt the frustration of having to repeat themselves to someone.

We don’t know what Gods’ voice sounded like when God called to Samuel. Maybe God’s voice began to become strained after the first time that God called for him. Each time Samuel listened, but he was listening for the voice of Eli, not necessarily God. Finally, once Eli is clued in, he directs Samuel’s ear in the proper direction. How frustrated was God by that point? I have no doubt that Samuel thought his ear was constantly open to listening for God’s voice, but if we don’t know what that voice sounds like, how do we know? How do we know when that voice becomes strained with frustration that it’s for us?

We’re a lot like Samuel. Our ears are inclined to listen for God, but we miss the mark. We mistake God’s words for that of someone else. Or vice versa: we mistake someone else’ voice for God’s. It’s not until we really listen that we can be corrected and discern that which is the voice of God calling us.

God, open our ears to hear your voice crying in your world. May we hear and discern your call in times of confusion and frustration. May we be obedient when others try to help us hear you. And may we answer faithfully and willingly, just like Samuel. Amen.

Written by Shelley Donaldson, Senior High Youth Coordinator

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