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1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20
Psalm 139: 1, 14
“Listen to your life,” says the Christian author Frederick Buechner. “See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
Listen to your life.
Listen for the voice of the Holy. Look for evidence of grace. Read the signs as well as the scriptures. Sit up and pay attention—to the closed doors as well as the shining moments, to the feeling in your gut and the joy in your heart as well as the thousand “shoulds” and “ought tos” resounding in your head.
Surround yourself with other listening people so that when it happens, as it always does, that you are aching for a comforting or clarifying word but cannot hear it, they will sit in the silence with you, ever attentive to the still-speaking voice of God in the gentle whispers of your life and the yearnings of your heart. Surround yourself with people who have dedicated themselves to learning to distinguish between the voice of power and the voice of love. Make your home in a community of faith that is ever eager to hear the voice of God. Ask questions, and listen for the answer. Put yourself in the path of the Light, even when the darkness is deep and seemingly unending.
Listen to your life.
Open your heart. Be on the lookout. Pay attention. Take note of the news items that prick your heart. Take heed of every little thing that moves you to tears. Connect the dots you see and then keep looking and listening for more dots. Rejoice in what you hear, however faint the sound.
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable,” writes the poet Mary Oliver—which is another way of saying, Make room for grace.
Like the boy Samuel, be ready.
Ready to respond to the call of your name. Ready to jump up and run to the one who calls—even if it’s only the one you think is calling. And, then, ready to listen. Ready to accept a divine commission. Ready to follow a holy call. Ready to become who you were created to be. And, ready, too, to rest in the heart of love. Ready to let yourself be loved and healed and delighted in. Ready to be reminded that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
When you are feeling lost and alone, when the state of the world drives you to despair and you think that God must have long ago given up on her creation, take heart from the story of Samuel.
Notice that while the word of God was rare in those days, it was not absent. Notice that while visions were not widespread they were not unheard of. Consider that the rarity of God’s word likely had more to do with the listeners than the speaker. Consider this haiku:
God is speaking,
ALL the time,
Sometimes I hear. 1
Notice that when God decides to break into human history yet again she chooses not the powerful, not the wealthy, not the clergy, not the hardhearted or corrupt, but the simple- and open-hearted, those still able to hear something outside of themselves, those willing to trust and obey.
Notice, too, that God is not easily turned aside. When Samuel misunderstood and Eli hadn’t yet connected the dots, God called again. And again. She persisted. When God finally got Samuel’s attention, God’s word was direct and clear.
Have you heard the voice of God’s love calling in the night? Did you roll over and go back to sleep, or did it keep you awake? Did you resist the call of deep calling to deep, or did your heart leap for joy?
What is the word you long to hear this morning?
An invitation to rest? Encouragement to keep going? A reminder that you are not alone? Courage to take the next step? Wisdom for the journey? Pure and simple love?
God is speaking all those things and more—all the time.
What is the word you long to hear?
Are you listening for it? Are you ready for it? Are you asking others for help in discerning it? Are you searching for signs? Are you noticing the divine presence everywhere—in every one and every thing? Are you stopping to notice what seems unusual or out of place? When the word comes, will you be willing to say, “Here I am!”?
Here I am, beloved of God. Here I am, searched and known—and still loved. Here I am, fearfully and wonderfully made. Here I am, at your service. Here I am, eager to follow.
Here we are, thanks be to God.
Speak, dear God, your servants are listening.