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I don’t know about you, but on so many days I wish God would show his face, speak up so I could be sure, draw an arrow on the ground so I know the way.

I find myself frustrated with the lack of direction… with the lack of God’s tangible presence… with my lack of faith.

I long to see God’s face and hear God’s voice.

But if you’re like me, take heart. Because even though you cannot see God’s face or hear God’s voice:

God is still at work.
God hasn’t forgotten you.
God is nearer than your very breath.

God threads the themes of seeing and hearing throughout 1 Samuel 3 to teach this very same lesson.

The narrator’s set-up reminds us that during that time, there are not many visions—evil is rampant and prophets are few. People had forgotten the presence of God. Even those tasked to do the duty of the Lord—the priest’s own sons—are corrupt. Sound familiar?

Then, we’re told Eli’s eyes are failing him. He is almost blind. The head priest who should be the one seeing visions from the Lord has lost his sight—both literally and spiritually.

God is at work.
God hasn’t forgotten Israel.
God is nearer than their very breath.

The Lord literally comes and stands in front of his chosen servant, Samuel, revealing God’s self to Samuel’s sight. Soon after, the Lord appears to Samuel at Shiloh—a place which means peace and abundance—both virtues we experience in the presence of the Lord. To bookend Eli’s fading out of importance and ability to have visions, after Samuel reveals what God says, Eli offers: “Let him do what is good in his eyes” (3:18).

Eli has lost his sight and prominence and yet trusts in God’s sight—even though it means certain destruction for Eli and his family.

Not only are visions rarely seen, the word of the Lord is rarely proclaimed during that time. The story begins with Samuel mishearing the voice of God because it had not yet been revealed to him. He assumed it was Eli summoning him.

Samuel’s response to each time he hears the voice of the Lord is: “Here I am.” This three-word reply to God harkens back to the call of Abraham in Genesis 22, the call of Moses in Exodus 3, and the call of Isaiah in Isaiah 6. But this response stands in contrast with God’s question in Genesis 3: “Where are you?” to which Adam and Eve do not answer “Here I am,” but rather hide in shame.

The summons of God is one God’s servants continue to receive throughout Scripture.

When we hear the call of God, will we be like Abraham, Moses, Samuel, and Isaiah and respond with “Here I am?” Or like Adam and Eve who hide at God’s beckon?

Once Samuel realizes his mistake, God speaks to him because he has ears to hear. During their conversation, God declares that no longer will the word of the Lord notbe preached—rather God is making a way for everyone’s ears to tingle at the sound of God’s action. Whereas at the beginning of the chapter, the word of the Lord wasn’t proclaimed, now none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground (3:19).

Everything is heard. God’s word no longer falls on deaf ears.

God is at work.
God hasn’t forgotten Israel.
God is nearer than their very breath.

God works through both the literal and spiritual senses of seeing and hearing to do something new that will bring sight to the blind and make all ears tingle. The story of God showing up and breaking in to Samuel’s life reminds us of the practical ways God reveals God’s character and nature throughout our lives and in the lives of others. Because:

God is still at work.
God hasn’t forgotten you.
God is nearer than your very breath.

God—Open my eyes to see your visions, to see injustice, to see the oppressed, to see your action in the world around me. Open my ears to hear your summons, to hear your word, to hear your voice. May my ears tingle with delight at the sound of your voice. May my answer be a resounding “Here I am. Use me.” at the sound of your call. Amen.

P.S. The online summer bible study through Scouting the Divine starts July 9th. Grab the Summer Bible Study Bundle. Join the private Facebook group. And get ready to experience God’s Word in a whole new way. 

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The invitation to lean into the Holy Spirit is for you, yes, you. Today, it matters that you share the story God is writing in you. Will you courageously share what you sense the Holy Spirit nudging you to do each day?

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