One of the ways that public universities have gotten away with offering religion classes is to rename them to fit the curriculum. For example, a class on the Old Testament may be labeled “The Bible as Literature.” It is not a ‘religion’ class per se, but becomes an English class. I took such a class in my undergrad work. The stories throughout the Old Testament read as a piece of literature is quite fascinating because like any other story, you get to know who the characters are and the context of the story. The story about the prophet Samuel is one of those stories that grabs your attention making you want to read more.
In 1 Samuel 3:1—4:1, Samuel keeps hearing his name being called and thinks that it is Eli, the priest of the temple calling him. Remember Samuel’s mother could not become pregnant, but goes to the temple and prays that the Lord will bless her with a son. In return, Samuel’s mom promises that once the child is weaned, she will give her son to the Lord. She lives up to her promise. Samuel has been living in the temple with Eli, the priest since a young boy. Now, the Lord is calling his name. After three times thinking that Eli is calling Samuel, Eli realizes that it is the Lord talking to Samuel. It is through this calling that Samuel becomes a well-known and trusted prophet of the Lord all throughout Israel.
Do we hear God calling our name thinking that maybe it is something else or even ignore it altogether? As Samuel laid in bed that night, he heard God’s voice, but thought it was Eli calling for him. How can we distinguish the voices in our head – those of the secular world pulling us in one direction versus the voices of God pulling us to do the Lord’s work? Listen carefully as you discern the work of the Lord – God may just be calling your name!
Let us pray, Gracious God, help us to open our hearts to hear you calling for us. Clear our minds of the things of this world and be open to what you would want each of us to do in your name. We love you so much, Amen.