9 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.
These verses, especially: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”, resonate with me in a very direct way this Lent. I recently became a Postulant for the priesthood in The Episcopal Church (!!!) and I am hoping to attend seminary this coming Fall.
Pending acceptances to MDiv programs and qualification for Financial Aid, I very well may be leaving behind a tenured university music position, a state presidency (LA-ACDA), several other jobs, and more.
Having said all that, you can probably deduce that my personal journey has included much discernment as to God's will for my life and perhaps a little.....ok, a LOT of trepidation and some denial of a call that has been forming for many years.
I feel a bit like Eli, yet also like Samuel. Eli had allowed himself to wander from God's grace and presence. Sure enough, I am rather comfortable in my city, my music, my life. After having such strong and clear experiences of God's call, I overthought everything and practically discerned it away. I was excited, yet afraid of the idea of being called to ministry.
I was definitely a wayward leaf, clinging wildly to the branch trailing in the water, afraid of being swept away, maybe even of drowning. Being a conductor, I had the false sense of control down to an art, literally. I needed to learn how to let God lead.
Luckily, more discernment and calling and then outside affirmations kept coming. A friend called from a House of Bishops meeting and said "Girrrl you need to talk to your bishop. He said he's tried to talk to you about discernment twice and that you'd shut him down both times". (*faints upon hearing)
Suddenly, I realized that this wasn't about me and my concerns, but about what God was doing in my life. I had been ignoring that. There's Eli and again, putting himself first, taking the best of the offerings.
I asked myself "Does God even speak with us today and if so, how on Earth can we tell if what we are hearing is indeed God's voice?" Samuel must have been about 12 or 13 when he heard God's voice. Thank goodness there's no age limit for God's Holy Spirit working in your life!
Then, when I thought I had all my own answers, I arrived at the beginning of my discernment and spiritual direction, I found myself "listening too hard". I wasn't expecting a booming voice from the sky, but then again, maybe I was. Samuel - fresh, unknowing and unexpecting, teaches us that we can indeed hear God and when we least expect it.
The innocence of his earnestness, wow. How do we position ourselves to better hear the Word of God? Well, perhaps we should "Go and lie down"
As I continue in my journey, I strive to be as open as Samuel. A leaf intentionally, yet freely floating on God's river, ready and willing to Go!
|Leaf in small river near Kanuga, NC|
2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3 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. 4 Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’and he said, ‘Here I am!’ 5 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. 6 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.’ 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 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. 9 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.