The darkness was thick and black. Everyone had gone to bed hours ago. But in one little room, a light still burned brightly. A young boy was curled up on the floor under a pile of blankets. The glow from the large lampstand bathed his serene, olive-toned face. His eyes were closed and his even breathing sounded loud in the stillness of the night.
Suddenly, a voice called out. “Samuel!” it said.
The boy slowly opened his eyes and looked around. There was no one nearby. Groggily, he stood up, shook off his sleepiness, and made his way as fast as he could to the priest’s quarters. The high priest appeared to be asleep. Samuel shook him.
“Did you call me?” he asked.
“No,” The priest replied. “You must have been dreaming. Go back to sleep.”
Samuel returned to his pile of blankets. Again, a voice called out. “Samuel!” it said.
Fully awake now and certain he wasn’t dreaming, Samuel got up and made his way back to the priest’s quarters.
“You’re imagining things,” Eli said.
The third time Samuel made his way to Eli’s chambers, Eli realized what was happening. It wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t Samuel’s imagination. It was the voice of the Lord.
It’s interesting. Samuel slept as close as he could to the Ark of God, which was kept in the holiest of holy places. He was a young man who loved the Lord. Even at night, he wanted to be as near as possible to the place where God’s presence dwelled. Samuel knew the law inside and out. The temple was his life so he had to know it. For years, this young boy had served the Lord. He helped the high priest in any way he could. Eli thought of him as a son. People loved him. God loved him.
Despite this, Samuel needed Eli to help him discern the call of God on his life.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to know whether you’re hearing the call of God, the call of other people, or your own emotions. You might spend hours a day in prayer. You might spend hours a day in worship. You might spend hours a day studying your Bible. You might volunteer in every possible ministry at your church. Samuel did all of these things too. But he still needed a spiritual mentor.
The Bible says “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14, ESV). People who run off on their own generally end up in left field. Way out in left field. We need those who are experienced in hearing the Lord’s voice to help us discern His calling on our lives so we can stay on track.
I’m so thankful for the Elis in my life! I can only imagine where I would be today without them! As I continue to move forward, I find myself increasingly grateful for their correction, their encouragement, and their wisdom. I’m going to make a point of telling them more often just how much I appreciate them.
How about you?