The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
I am ending this month as I began it: De-cluttering!
Never has the nearby trash dumpster seen so much action from the likes of me. And never have my closets, cabinets and shelves been so streamlined and organized. The feeling is really quite liberating, as I've freed myself of unnecessary items that have just been sitting there taking up space and clogging my world.
I've also been de-cluttering other areas of my life, too—from forgoing certain television shows that are not good for my thinking to limiting time spent online or in virtual interaction to how many activities are crammed into my weekly social calendar to my current priorities and my long-range goals. In the most simplified of terms, it was looking like this: too much of the world and not enough of God. Can you relate?
So, as December was winding down—and I had some vacation time to sit still and ponder—I realized that there wasn't enough room for God in my life. Once again, I had filled it with so many other things (figuratively and literally), and this was affecting my overall spiritual health and time spent with the Lord.
I'll admit that it's not fun cutting out some of these things from my life. But in making these hard decisions, I've seen how I am watching and waiting and listening for God more. Why? Because I have time and I have space! I have made myself more available, so I'm ready to recognize his voice when he is speaking into my life.
Unlike the story of young Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1), I am not still a child, nor still early on in my faith nor have I ever heard God's voice audibly in direct revelation. I also may have a few more responsibilities or concerns in my life right now than a young boy did in Bible times. But I can still learn from his example …
• Samuel was still (resting) when he heard from God. Not tidying up the temple, not preparing food for guests, not doing more after-hours Levitical research or training. No, Samuel was lying down near the Ark of the Covenant. There was apparently time set aside in his schedule to be still and perhaps go to bed early (gasp!). And in the quiet of the night, he heard the Lord.
• Samuel received confirmation from a spiritual elder. Eli was a priest and therefore older and wiser in the faith. Samuel had been entrusted to his care to be trained for the Lord's service in the temple. Eli probably knew the heart of this young boy very well. When Samuel described what he heard to him, it was Eli who recognized that it was the voice of the Lord. He wisely told Samuel to answer the call when he heard it.
• Samuel responded and immediately submitted himself to God. There was no hesitation and no "tell me what you want first and I'll think about it" type of discussion. Samuel's heart was open (and had been prepared, no doubt, from his training by Eli and by his growing love for the Lord), he obeyed and was ready to receive the Lord's message and serve him.
So much to take away here, isn't there? Is there a time in my day when I am still and resting before the Lord? When I am only focused on hearing from him? How about you?
And then do I have close fellowship and accountability with a spiritual mentor? Am I opening my life to someone who is a well-seasoned and trusted believer and can help me see what I am missing or hear what the Lord might be saying to me? How about you?
Or what about my response? How I do answer in whatever God is calling me to do? Am I submissive? Am I giving up whatever my agenda is in order to do His will? Do I have a servant's heart no matter what? How about you?
Like Samuel, I hope that each of us is ready to say to the Lord today: "Speak, for your servant is listening."
Intersecting Faith & Life:
How long has it been since you've heard from the Lord? Is there too much going on? What activities, relationships or priorities in your life could be blocking his voice? Take some time this weekend pouring over your calendar, your checkbook and your Bible (whatever you need to give you a snapshot of your heart and of your life), and ask the Lord to help you listen as He speaks to you.