God calls to Samuel but Samuel mistakes the voice for Eli, the high priest for whom he works . Samuel runs to Eli three times, thinking it is Eli who is calling him. “Here I am,” he says, but each time, Eli replies that he had not called for the boy. When Eli realizes that the voice Samuel hears is God’s, he instructs Samuel to respond “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Mistaken voice. Multiple calls.
This year, I’m joining others in my congregation who will read the Bible in chronological order, and I’m really excited about it. I taught Sunday School for many years, and I’ve participated in a variety of studies dedicated to specific books of the Bible, but I often felt the lessons needed more background story. In addition to the main message or the key verse, I wanted to hear about the context in which the story was told. What was going on in the lives of those to whom the story was directed? What was society like? What cultures were emerging? Understanding those issues, I believed, would help me consider my own background story and society, and determine how to best integrate the message or key verse into my life.
In these first weeks, I’ve read of Abraham’s response when he’s asked to sacrifice Isaac and Jacob’s response when he’s instructed to take his family and return to Canaan. Both responded to God’s call and took immediate action — without argument, question or comment.
In the coming weeks, I’ll read of how others responded to God’s call, and I’ll see a variety of “Here I am” responses. In some, the main character tries to say “No,” claiming he isn’t capable of doing what is asked of him. In others, the main character argues that God’s request is the wrong thing to do.
Responses I’ve heard come out of my mouth, too.
My chronological reading plan doesn’t have me reading about Samuel and Eli until April, but I can’t ignore its “Here I am” message until then, especially since I often use the month of January for self-reflection, resolutions, plans, and goals. So I wonder: How often do I mistake God’s voice for that of another? How many calls have I missed because I didn’t recognize His voice?
... Because I first have to discern God’s voice before I can take action in His name …
Here are a few more “Here I am” responses to reflect upon:
Lyrics and music by Dan Schutte. He’s written music for liturgy and worship for more than 40 years.
Performed by the Celebrant Singers, a contemporary Christian music and missions ministry based in California (a video I just stumbled upon as I was searching youtube).
The story behind the song.
Linking to Michelle and the Hear It, Use It community