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1 Samuel 3:10-11
“And the Lord came and stood, calling as at
other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant
hears.’ Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in
Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.”
Pause for a moment and close your eyes. What
do you hear? As I sit down to write, I hear the screech of the Metra as it
comes to a stop. Far above me, a plane prepares to land at O’Hare. Down the street,
the music from a restaurant floats towards me alongside the quiet hum of
conversations over lunch. And above it all, the buzzy roar of cicadas. My ears
have grown accustomed to tuning these sounds out. Most of the time, I barely
Yet my ears take in many other things that I
can’t help but be attentive to: I feel pressure from myself and others to
remain vigilant to what’s going on in the world. So I watch the news, scroll
through social media, and engage in conversations in-person and over texts and
phone calls. I am bombarded with information, and it becomes exhausting to try
and process everything I hear. It’s tempting to withdraw, to silence the
hundreds of voices I encounter.
But then I come across stories like that of
Samuel, an Old Testament prophet recognized for his willingness to listen to
the Lord’s call. In the excerpt above from 1 Samuel, this was the fourth time the Lord called out to
Samuel, and the fourth time Samuel
attentively responded. Each time, Samuel was just getting ready to drift off to
sleep in the temple. As I read, I imagine myself in Samuel’s position. Under
the training of Eli the priest, Samuel likely spent his days learning about the
law and listening to Eli’s instruction. Samuel worked hard to serve God in the
temple. I’m sure he was tired at the end of each day, and he eagerly
anticipated a good night’s sleep. It must have been hard, night after night, to
continue to respond to the Lord’s call, yet he did!
At Eli’s instruction, Samuel responds, “speak,
for your servant hears.” He doesn’t withdraw or try to ignore God, hoping that
God will go away. Nor does Samuel dive into a conversation, filling the silence
with his own words.
“Speak, for your servant hears.”
How often do I rush to absorb the information around
me, without pausing to deeply, intently listen and process?
How often do I miss out on really listening to what others have to say?
How often do I hear what others are saying,
only to form my own response or pursue an argument?
“Speak, for your servant hears.”
In the coming weeks, conversations about our
world and our role as the Church in all of this will continue. In these
conversations, I hope to be more like Samuel, attentively listening to the
Lord’s voice. To listen for the Lord’s voice in solitude, as well as in my
conversations with others (whether they are in person or digitally). When we
seek to listen, God can then work
through us to speak and act in ways that bring about reconciliation and
Lord, Speak, for your servant hears. Thank you for
providing examples like Samuel, who model a willingness to listen. Thank you
for pursuing a faithful nearness to us in your love. We are sorry for the many
times we have ignored your voice and refused to listen. We are sorry for the
many times we have ignored those who voice the need for hard truths and
reconciliation. Help us to turn our ears, hearts, and minds towards you.
Provide us with patience and humility as we work to listen and amplify hard
truths and reconciliation. Amen.
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