A Reflection on the First Reading for January 17th, 2021:
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” Samuel ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.
The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.
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I wonder how often I am in a situation similar to the one Samuel is in in this reading. How often does the Lord call on me without me truly realizing it is Him?
Have you ever been in a period of discernment where you’re not quite sure if God is trying to guide you in one direction or the other? I sure have. This scripture is a great example of how sometimes God’s voice isn’t always the most clear or blatant. It takes Samuel directly surrendering to God to find clarity: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” I truly admire that readiness to surrender as Samuel does. It can be hard to completely zone in on God’s voice, leaving all of the background noise behind.
It’s far too often that I can let that background noise cloud a time of discernment. The loudness of anxiety, fear, confusion, and doubt can be intensely overpowering at times. It certainly takes true and complete surrender to let go of those unhelpful distractors. But, simply letting go of those fears and doubts is not an easy task. Although some of us may possess that beautiful child-like ability to surrender as Samuel does, others (And this for sure includes me!) find it difficult to silence the background noise.
If you’re in that latter group like myself, I’ve found it can be helpful to do something that allows you to wrap yourself in God’s presence. This may be having some silent prayer time, going out into nature to pray, or my favourite: listening to praise and worship music. When I need God’s voice to be the only noise I focus on, I find myself praying with the song “Whole Heart” by Hillsong UNITED. It is so comforting to find truth in the lyrics:
You pulled me from the clay Set me on a rock Called me by Your Name And made my heart whole again So here I stand High in surrender I need You now Hold my heart now and forever My soul cries out Once I was broken but You loved my whole heart through Sin has no hold on me Your grace holds me now
The Lord loves you through all of the background noise and wishes to guide you to full surrender. I pray that each day, I can quiet that harmful noise to better hear God’s voice when He calls out to me. Amen.