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Speak Lord for your servant is listening
Yesterday’s Mass reading is one that I just love! It is taken from the First Book of Samuel. When Samuel is sleeping and is awakened by a voice calling his name. He assumes it is Eli the High Priest whom Samuel is ministering under.
So, he goes to Eli, wakes him up, and asks him what he is calling him for. Eli then tells Samuel that he did not call him and to go back to sleep. I am sure you too have heard the story many times.
Finally, after the third time, Eli realizes that it must be the Lord calling Samuel and he then instructs Samuel that if he hears his name being called again, to respond with the words
“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening”.
So the story goes that finally, Samuel listens and the Lord remained with him and made him a trustworthy Prophet of the Lord. (1Samuel 3: 1-21)
This reading really stands out to me. I too have experienced the Lord trying to tell me something or instruct me somehow and I mistake the message or refuse to listen outright.
How many times? Well, I’m not sure, there are probably many I am not aware of. But let me give just one example where this same type of story played out in my life.
I was on a retreat weekend with 40 beautiful women all looking for God to enter into their lives in a deeper way.
This is the one retreat that I really felt that God stepped into my life and invited me into more intentional service for Him.
So, at this retreat, we celebrated Mass every day. Of course, if you are going to have Mass you need readers, right? Well, this is where Our Dear Lord decided shy, quiet Joy needed to serve.
Now, I am very shy. Especially when it comes to speaking or reading in front of others. I know, reading the Word of God during the Liturgy of the Word is an honor and is for God and His people. But, I was more interested in my own insecurities and nervousness to care.
Here is how it all played out…
The first evening someone came to me and asked if I would like to read at the next morning’s Mass. I replied, “No, I’m not a reader”. Let’s just say my heart was pumping and I knew and felt assured that I just did the right thing in refusing to read.
So another reader was found and I was in the clear.
Later on that day, another woman came to me and asked me if I would like to read at the next morning’s Mass. I was a little taken back. Don’ t these ladies leading the retreat talk? I had already told someone that I don’t read at Mass. So, I politely declined and was happy that it was over.
That night when I was getting ready for bed I began to reflect on my day. I then began my nightly prayers and for some reason, the thought of those two interactions about reading at Mass came to mind.
So, I prayed. I told the Lord that if, in fact, he wanted me to read at Mass he would have to have someone ask me again. Then I would know it was Him who was asking. (I knew that the possibility of being asked again was extremely low)
But, if it did happen, I would for sure then reply just as Samuel did – “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” and happily do it.
Being Put to The Test that I didn’t pass
The night flew by and before I knew it was wake up time. This was the last day of the retreat and today was the closing Mass. At this Mass it wouldn’t be just the people on retreat, the Church would be full of many people to join with us.
We gathered in the conference room for breakfast and our last little presentation before Mass.
I hadn’t forgotten my promise the night before and I was not taking any chances. So, I positioned myself far away from the doorway. Sitting in a group of women and I made sure to remain as hidden as possible.
Deeply engaged in wonderful conversations with these beautiful women that I had the privilege of spending the last 3 days with when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I turned around and there was one of the retreat leaders looking kindly at me. “Would you like to do the second reading today?“…
I froze. knowing exactly what I had to do. I had made a promise.
Before I could stop it, the words came out of my mouth…”I’m sorry, I don’t read at Mass”…
Uh oh, I just did what I promised I would not do. I refused again and I did not respond the way Samuel did.
Whenever I hear this reading I think of that, how I denied the Lord what he was obviously asking of me.
So what happened? Did I get off the hook for good? Well, we do have free will. And yes, I did get ‘off the hook’ for that one time.
I don’t know about you, but I have come to realize that when God wants us for a specific task or ministry, he will be persistent. And he comes up with other ways to get our attention.
For me, he has used my dear Husband. If I could only count the times that my husband has volunteered us as a couple and I end up having to step out (complaining and refusing the whole way) of my comfort zone and speak in front of people.
I have given talks, I have spoken up in groups, and recently I told my husband that I think I want to be a reader at Mass. Wow! Who am I?
This did not come about by my own will or desire. This is what stepping out and doing the little things God calls me or pulls me to, did. It grew me in the very thing God created me for and usually the thing I did not want to do.
Unlike Samuel, I didn’t hear a voice calling in the night. God used ordinary people to invite me into the role he was preparing me for. And, unlike Samuel, I didn’t respond in a ‘listening servant’ way. But, he persisted and still does to this day. He hasn’t given up on me!
I still need to work on paying attention to those simple ways that the Holy Spirit nudges me. I can’t even imagine how many opportunities I’ve missed or put off for a time to share God’s love or serve his little ones that I may have missed.
God knows each of us intimately. And he beckons and calls to us in a way he knows we definitely can hear him…our responsibility, simply, is to listen and pay attention.
My advice dear friend, keep listening and pay attention to those seemingly small, unimportant, little ‘calls’ from our Lord. And listen to the voice of your husband, or the sweet lady standing behind you, or that child you care for each day, theirs may be the voice God is using to call you. Let’s see where He takes us!