One of the things that is difficult to get used to, now that my children are all grown up, is being out in public and remembering that is someone shouts, “mum”, it won’t be me they’re shouting. We get accustomed to being able to pick out our name from a crowd, and responding.
Samuel, beloved and longed for child, is living in the Temple, serving the Lord under the direction of Eli, the Priest. Eli, is very old and nearly blind and part of Samuel’s role is to care for him. Eli is asleep in his room, and Samuel is asleep in the Sanctuary.
During the night, Samuel hears his name being called, and assumes it is Eli calling for help. He rushes to him, but is not Eli calling. This happens a further twice, before the penny drops with Eli, and he tells Samuel the next time he hears his name being called to respond:
‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’
And that is what happens. Tantalizingly, the lectionary reading leaves it there. Samuel inviting God to speak to him.
Samuel invites God to speak to him, with no idea what God might ask of him. He comes willing, openly, offering himself.
Can we hear God calling to us? In the noise and the bustle of life? Can we discern his voice from what we are expecting to hear?
When we hear God’s voice, do we respond? Or ignore it and carry on with what we were doing, with what we have planned, with what our usual routine?
Are we willing to hear God’s voice where we are. To stop and let him speak?
may I hear your voice,
and listen as you speak.
May I pick your voice out from the crowd,
and hear what you are saying.
May I hear you calling me
from what I’m expecting to hear.
May I discern your voice,
be willing to listen,
and respond freely and wholeheartedly.