Listening for the Voice of God
I really like this passage about the call of Samuel and it is one that I often reference when I am talking with young adults about the role of discernment in their life choices.
Sometimes when we are trying to decide what to do with our lives it feels like we have to make all the decisions on our own. We might decide to take classes and get good grades so that we can qualify for other classes and eventually we use all that we have learned to apply for a program that is going to make or break our career which will determine whether we are successful or not for the rest of our lives. That’s a lot of pressure.
I don’t think it is just something that only young people go through either. In whatever stage of life we find ourselves we often struggle to make good decisions and are anxious that we might decide poorly. Wouldn’t it be nice to have little help in that regard? The call of Samuel might be a clue as to how we can find the help we need.
The still small voice that Samuel hears calling his name in the quiet of the night at first seems like an annoyance. It disturbs Samuel’s sleep, as well as Eli’s, as they are both unsure as to what this experience that Samuel is having is all about. This goes on until Eli, the more experienced in the ways of spiritual matters, realizes that there is more going on than Samuel just trying to be a bother. Eli tells Samuel to listen and to respond to the call with an open heart trusting that God is going to tell him something about himself.
This is the crux. The voice that is calling Samuel knows him by his name; a way of saying that it knows all there is to know about Samuel. This still, small, innocuous voice is going be Samuel’s guide as he begins his spiritual journey.
If we reflect carefully I am sure most of us have experienced that voice at times in our lives. Perhaps it does not come across audibly as Samuel heard but maybe more like a tug that tells us which direction we should be focusing our thoughts or actions. If we are not careful we can tend to let outside influences override that voice that comes from inside of us. If so, we end up doing things based on the expectations that others might have for us or perhaps based on dreams or goals that come to us from a false understanding of what our values are. But if we listen, the voice that calls from our inner true self will let us know whether we are on the right path or not. Like Samuel, sometimes we need help learning to listen to that voice.
The Redemptorist S.E.R.V.E. program is an opportunity for young men and women to take a break from their regular lives for a period of 4 to 6 weeks to live in a small community of Redemptorist priests and brothers for the purpose of praying, discerning, working with the poor and living in Christian community. Through this program I have seen in others and experienced in myself the still, quiet voice of God come to the fore and change the direction of people’s lives. We no longer have to feel as though we are on the treadmill of life and can’t get off. God is waiting to show us beautiful vistas as we venture down the roads less travelled, provided we learn to listen.
The gift of listening to the voice of God inside of us is peace. No more do we have to feel anxious about making a bad choice. If we listen to that inner voice we can sit back, with calmness in our hearts, knowing that whatever comes we have aligned our will with God’s will.