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GOD is calling! Are We listening?
by Rhino

In Samuel, we have a boy who was ministering to the Lord. Even though he "did not yet know the Lord and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him". Yet the Lord was calling him. He was serving God, even though he didn't know for sure who God was.

Samuel was following the rules, doing what he was supposed to do. I don't believe that he knew why. He was there to do a job and he did it. He was there because of a promise his mother, Hannah, had made to God.

I connect with this passage on a couple of levels.

I see it from the viewpoint of a parent. If you look back to the beginning of 1 Samuel, you see that Hannah was infertile. She had made a promise to God that if He would give her a son, she would give him to the service of the Lord. God gave her a son.

I made a similar promise.

After finding out that Marianne and I were infertile, I promised God that if he would give us children, I would make sure that they grew up in church. I would do my best to show them the wonder of His word and deeds. I would make sure that they were baptised and went to Sunday school. That they would grow up with more knowledge of the Bible than I did.

Many struggles happened along the way. Tens of thousands of dollars spent on fertility clinics, offers of children for adoption that never materialized. Even a trip overseas and still, no kids. I will admit that during this time I lost faith. It was a time that was very hard for the both of us.

Someone told me that God was punishing us for something I had done. Something so terrible, so awful that he did not want me raising children. I believed them. I didn't understand what I could have done that was so bad. I felt as though God had abandoned me. My faith was being tested and I failed miserably.

While we were in Romania, there was a 4 month old boy whom we were trying to adopt. He was beautiful. The first time I saw him I felt a connection. When I held him I thought I had seen God's plan and I was very happy. Then we lost him because of greed and politics. I felt as though God had abandoned me again. I couldn't see what His plan was.

After 12 years of marriage, watching our friends have and raise their children, the opportunity came to move to Tennessee. We had been told that it was much easier to adopt here. As soon as the financial details were worked out, we moved. Twentyone months, almost to the day after moving, Tony and Audry came to us. My faith was renewed. I think I can now see the plan that God had for us. If we hadn't gone through all of the trials that we did, we might not appreciate these children as much as we do.

I am trying my best to keep my promise to God.

My kids come to church with me on Sundays because I say so. They go to Sunday school because I say so. Sometimes they might rather stay home and watch TV, but they are here because I made a promise. A bit like Hannah prayed for Samuel and promised that he would serve God.

The same thing goes for the foster children that we bring into our home. I know their lives haven't been ideal. The circumstances they come from aren't the best. I think that some of the kids in foster care have lost their faith. I believe that it is up to me to help them find it again. For those kids who have not known God at all, it is my job to help them to learn who He is.

Another place that I connect with this is because of the youth of Samuel. Isn't it interesting that God chose to speak to a young boy at this time. Samuel, someone who really didn't even know who the Lord was. Even though the old priest, Eli, was in the next room, God called Samuel. As I was growing up, I was told that it was the right thing for me to go to church. I was there almost every Sunday. I listened to the Word, but no one there listened to me. Why? I was young. In the eyes of the elders and the priests I didn't know anything. They didn't listen to what I had to offer, because of my age. My father tried to teach me about construction. He did a pretty good job. The only thing that bothered me was that when I had a suggestion about a way to do things faster or better, Dad wouldn't listen. He said that I was too young to know about such things. Eventually, he did listen to some of my ideas and found out that they worked. Not all of them, but alot more than he figured. Why did he start listening? I had gotten older. I have worked in several other places that would tell me that they wanted my suggestions.When I offered them, I was brushed aside because of my age. Even now, at 38 years old, there are still people that look at me as too young or inexperienced to have a good idea. Their age and experience tells them that I could not possibly understand. I could not have a better idea. No way.

How often is it that we hear the voices of our children or the younger members of the congregation and do not listen? We give lip service to the youth. We tell them what they want to hear, but do we really listen to their words? How often we miss the chance to listen and to let them know that we are interested in them. Or that God is interested in them. Occasionally we let them play some of "their" music in church, or do a little skit on Christmas. Is that enough? I don't believe that they think it is. We love to have the little children up here on the altar for the "Childrens Service". We think that it is really cute. It sometimes gives us a laugh. But how often do we actually listen to what they say? While pastors and preachers recall the words "and a little child shall lead them", is it in their hearts to let the little ones try to lead? Or maybe we think that they should just be quiet until they get older and learn more. . Our "Youth Ministry" shouldn't necessarily be about the groups or what we do for the younger members of the congregation or the community. It should also be a time when they show us what they know and can do for us. If we don't show an interest in them, why should they show an interest in us and the way we do things?We sometimes let the fact that they are wearing clothes that are weird or they have on too much jewelry, strange hair or make-up, take away from the interest that we might have in them The Christian Church, as a whole, is shrinking in size. There are fewer and fewer people coming into the churces to worship and pray. Our average age is increasing. It should be staying steady or declining. As people go home to the Lord, we should have at least the same number coming into the church, if not more. Why is this happening? Is it because we have refused to change? It could very well be the reason. We have become very comfortable in our ways. We don't like change. We want things to continue on as they have. Tradition is very important to us. If we start listening to different music or changing the liturgy or challenging the way things have been done, we risk our traditions. If we don't, we risk our future and the future of the church. Maybe tradition is just a little too important to us. I am afraid that some of our children may just going through the motions. They learn the rules. They do what is expected of them. When they reach out to the church with suggestions, we don't listen. How often are they included in the daily decisions that we, as a church make. It should be more often. The decisions that are made concern them too. If we push their suggestions and ideas aside without showing any interest, why should they keep trying? It is when they quit trying that we lose them. All through the Bible we read of people who changed the way things were done. Some were older, some younger. Age had nothing to do with it. Nothing at all. All that mattered was the willingness to listen. The willingness to change. You have to understand that all things must change to survive. If we, as a church, are to survive, we must not only accept change, we must embrace it. Maybe that change is simple. It could be radical. We don't know because we aren't listening. We all agree that for the church to survive we need the younger members, do we take into account what they have to offer? If we don't allow change, the church may die with us. If we do change, it may prosper. We won't know unless we try. Our youth, our future, is out there right now,.thinking that no one is listening. Are they right? I hope and pray that they are wrong. Is there a Samuel among us? Unless we learn to listen, we may never know.