Summary: God seems to love the "Quiet Game" and seems to be the world's most skilled player. How can you hear Him when He seems to be so quiet?
Pt. 1 - The Silent Treatment
It is a scam. A ploy. I am convinced it is nothing more than a well disguised trick to get a momentary respite and break from the barrage of sound that emanates from a classroom full of rowdy 2nd graders. I am talking about my least favorite kid's game. It can't hold a candle to to the beauty and intricacies of games like freeze tag, duck duck goose, or Simon Says. It is empty of the adrenaline rush of red rover, red rover or dodge ball. It is the quiet game. A contest to see who can go the longest without saying a word or making a sound. No action. No movement. I didn't like it then and lo and behold the disdain for the game has carried over into my adult life. My dislike of the silent treatment probably directly ties to my lack of appreciation for the quiet game.
Here is the problem . . . One of the facts of life as a believer is that there seem to be long seasons of silence when we deal with God. God seems to love the quiet game and seems to be the world's most skilled player. I much prefer the moments when I hear God clearly. I much prefer the seasons when at every turn God's voice is easily discernible and recognizable. The issue is that more times than not I find myself in Deuteronomy 5:22 - "He spoke in a tremendous voice from the fire and cloud and dark mist. And that was it. No more words."
Times when you hear Him, every service, every sermon, every moment in the altar is anticipated and exciting because it like you have a direct hotline to heaven and then NOTHING! You make no changes. You listen just as intently and silence suffocates. A ceiling of brass. Unreachable. Untouchable. Seasons of prolonged silence. Whether it is a 400 year silence like the Israelites experienced or a 4 month silence the truth is I hate it when it seems like God is playing the quiet game!
Over the course of the next few weeks I want to walk us through how to hear God! We know that hearing Him is essential for life because we have been told that we don't live on bread but on the Word of God. If it is His Word that sustains us, then it absolutely imperative that we learn how to hear.
The boy Samuel was serving God under Eli’s direction. This was at a time when the revelation of God was rarely heard or seen. (1 Samuel 3:1 - And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.) One night Eli was sound asleep his eyesight was very bad—he could hardly see. It was well before dawn; the sanctuary lamp was still burning. Samuel was still in bed in the Temple of God, where the Chest of God rested. Then God called out, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Yes? I’m here.” Then he ran to Eli saying, “I heard you call. Here I am.” Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” And so he did. God called again, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, “I heard you call. Here I am.” Again Eli said, “Son, I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” This all happened before Samuel knew God for himself. It was before the revelation of God had been given to him personally. God called again, “Samuel!”—the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, “Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am.” That’s when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So Eli directed Samuel, “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, ready to listen.’” Samuel returned to his bed. Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak. I’m your servant, ready to listen.”
a. His voice must become precious again.
We focus on God speaking to Samuel and miss the context that surrounds what we are reading. What we are reading when God calls Samuel's name is the breaking of a long silence. Eli, the high priest, and his sinful sons had quieted God. This quiet game teaches us a powerful lesson . . . God grows quiet when we don't obey obvious Word. God grows quiet when His Word becomes ordinary. When we hear God's voice we must obey so that the channels of communication remain open! However, whether you hear daily or you are in a prolonged period of silence we must position ourselves in an attitude of honor and esteem towards His Word. Is His Word precious to you? Do you value His voice above other voices? I realize that in this passage the use of the word precious is another way to say scarce. However, if we would learn to treat His Word as if it is scarce, then we would learn to hear Him when He speaks softly. It is because we treat His Word as if it is common or normal that causes us to miss it.