Are You Speaking or Listening?

1 Samuel 3: So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”

If you have ever coached kids you probably understand the challenge and frustration with the ones who do not listen.  You may have the attention of most of them as you instruct, but all you hear is this constant murmuring and movement off to the side.  It is always the same kids, off in their own world.  It’s understandable at the age of 7, but it is wearying at the age of 15 or 16.  Even more challenging, and something seen more often as they grow older, is the athlete who not only will not listen, but is quite content to speak.  They seem to believe they know more than the coach.  It wouldn’t matter if Vince Lombardi was coaching him; he’d say: “Coach, this drill makes no sense.  Our problem is blocking, not my running.”

If you have experienced the above, either as a coach or a teammate, you know it’s ludicrous and not helpful to the team.  In fact, you may smugly say: “I’m glad I was never that type of an athlete”.  But let me challenge you and ask if you are that type of Christian? I was listening to Dr. Charles Stanley recently as I drove in the car.  He said something so simple, yet so impactful to me.  In referring to today’s scripture in 1 Samuel 3 where God calls Samuel for the first time, Dr. Stanley said that we, as Christians, often reverse things.  While God longs to hear the words of Samuel: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9b), the reality is that our lives communicate: “Listen, Lord, for your servant is speaking!”.

You may ask: “but does God even speak today, and how does he speak?”.  I have never heard the audible voice of God, but I can absolutely say that I have heard Him speak many times. I recall a time where I was struggling with direction.  I prayed and cried out to God saying: “I want to trust you, but I just don’t understand what you are doing in my life right now, and I have no idea what path to take.  Lord, please speak”.  That very night I was awakened.  I sensed an inaudible voice saying: “Go read your Bible”.  I reached above my head to where my Bible usually sat, but couldn’t find it. I searched our bedroom for my wife’s Bible, but also couldn’t find it. I walked downstairs and looked around the main floor for just any Bible but found none (which is crazy because we have many Bibles laying in various locations in our house).  I walked by the dining room and I noticed one small travel Bible on a shelf.  It was almost new, and I recall taking it on only one trip.  I saw that there was a bookmark so I opened to that page.  I was shocked to see two verses underlined, because I don’t recall ever underlining anything and no one else used that Bible.  As I paged through it, there were no other verses underlined in the entire Bible.  The verses read: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Not more than 4 hours earlier I prayed for trust, understanding and direction, and He answered all those questions with two simple verses.  I laid my head on the table and cried.  God had given me no specific direction, but He reassured me that I didn’t need to understand everything, but rather just needed to take the next step with Him.  All he needed to do was whisper to me.

It is interesting that God often speaks in a very gentle voice.  When God spoke to Elijah (1 Kings 19: 10-16), it was not in a powerful wind, an earthquake or fire, but rather a gentle whisper.  The key is to remove the noise of our own voice. Cry out to God saying: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

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