Back in the day, when party lines were the norm, the phone would ring and you knew a call was coming through but, you had to listen carefully to determine if that call was for you. As I read the familiar passage in the Bible for my early morning devotions today of Samuel the boy and his experience trying to answer the call that he heard, my mind went several directions. Christians talk a lot about being called, discovering your calling and answering the call of God on your life. What does that mean anyway? Well, simply put, it means this. God created you for a purpose, you were lovingly designed with intention and in such a unique manner that you are equipped to fulfill that purpose. As I read about Samuel, I realized that often we are like the young boy Samuel who heard the call and kept answering but, heading the wrong direction. In case you aren’t familiar with the story, you can read it in 1 Samuel chapter 3.
The first verse in the chapter sets the scene and my first impression was that this could be said about this very day as well. “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” This is a sad state of affairs, we should know. Verses 2&3 tells us where the priest Eli was and where the boy Samuel was. They were each lying down in their assigned places Take note, Samuel was properly positioned to hear from the Lord. Are we? Do we ever get quiet enough to hear what God has to say? In verse 4 it says simply that the Lord called Samuel and then Samuel answered, “Here I am.” So far, so good. Samuel is positioned properly to hear the call, God calls and Samuel answers with a willing heart. But, then things go awry. In Samuel’s eagerness he answered the wrong call. He runs to Eli, the priest. He is mistaken. He is dismissed. He went back and laid back down. Have you ever felt like Samuel? Have you ever felt sure that you were being called? Had yourself all worked up and excited and ran to answer the call only to discover you were mistaken? It can be a bit embarrassing, like you are crashing someone else’s party. It can be a bit unsettling as you question your own ability to hear from God.
One thing about it, Samuel didn’t give up and neither should we. In verse 6 they could have written “ditto” because that’s exactly what it was, a repeat of the same occurrence. God calls, Samuel hears and responds but, heads off in the wrong direction. He is once again sent away, told to take a chill pill. Well, Eli didn’t exactly use those words, but that is basically what he is saying. Have you ever tried to follow up on a dream or vision, a calling that has you on your feet and running, only to be met with tolerance and reserve? It is as if they are saying, “please calm down” or “not right now” or “perhaps another time”. This is not the reaction that you are looking for when your fire has been lit and you know you are suppose to be busy doing something that matters.
Verse 7 really caught my eye as it explains a bit of Samuel’s confusion and apparent lack of making any progress however willing he was to do so. “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” There is a big clue in that little bitty word ‘yet’. It is so often about timing. It is so often about ‘yet’. The call was genuine, but Samuel wasn’t quite ready. This was going to be the first step of the journey not the arrival date. In verse 8 we start off in a similar manner. The Lord calls, Samuel answers and once again heads in the same wrong direction. It takes some of us a few times around the same mountain to finally get the message. Hey, you’re going the wrong direction. Stop doing the same thing expecting a different result. Thankfully the older and wiser man, realized what was happening and redirected Samuel to handle things differently the next time. What a treasure to have Godly folks around you who are wise and experienced.
I won’t continue with the rest of the story here, although I encourage you to do so on your own. I want you to consider this. Are you positioned properly to hear the call? Are you jumping the gun and getting the timing wrong? Are you at your ‘yet’? Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be hasty. Don’t be too quick to take off running. Next time, take time to listen to the whole of it, get the details if they are being offered. Let the Lord reveal His word to you so that you know Him and His voice so well, you can be assured that this call is for you.