“Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” -I Samuel 3:9b (NIV)
In a touching story in the Bible, we read that a young woman named Hannah was barren. Desperate for a baby, she promised to give her child to God’s service, if only she could get pregnant. According to the story in 1 Samuel, God heard her prayer, and she named her son Samuel. The name Samuel (shemû’el) sounds like the Hebrew for “heard of God,” shama, “hear, listen to” and ‘el, the generic word for “God.” Keeping her vow, she dedicated her baby to the Lord and thus let him grow up in the temple.
To reward Hannah for her faithfulness in keeping her promise, I Samuel 2:21 reads: “And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord.” So, in keeping with the idea that “you can’t outgive God,” the Lord later rewarded Hannah with five more children after her first pregnancy.
Fast forwarding a few years, and chapter 3 tells us that God spoke to the boy Samuel during the night. Verse 10 reads: “The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’”
In her devotional More Language of Letting Go, author Melody Beatty tells this story of a counselor who was once an addict. “I was in treatment for chemical dependency and needed a job to get out. I looked for months, but nobody wanted to hire me. One day I was waiting for a bus when a little voice urged: ‘Look behind you.’ I was standing next to an attorney’s office. ‘Go talk to the head of the firm and tell him you need a job,’ were the words I heard. That’s crazy, I thought… but that ‘still, small voice’ urged me on, so I obeyed. When I talked to the attorney and told him what was happening in my ife, he understood because someone in his family was also recovering from addiction. Then he looked at me and said, ‘it’s funny you came in today. I was thinking about creating a position for a legal secretary and hadn’t gotten around to advertising.’ Two weeks later I got the job, and it was better than any position I’d applied for. It paid more and made the best possible use of my skills.”
In today’s modern, noisy world, we may think God no longer speaks, but He does. The main way the Lord speaks to us is through His word, the Bible. However, God can also speak to us through others, circumstances, dreams, a notion that we can’t quite shake, or some times via “that still, small voice.”
We are bombarded by voices and messages. Experts claim the average American in the 1970s saw or heard between 500 and 1,600 ads per day, mainly on billboards, on TV, or in print. With the internet age, however, that number has skyrocketed to some 6,000-10,000 ads every day. We are awash in competing voices and messages, tugging and manipulating us this way and that.
Over the din, God is still speaking.
The question is, are we listening?