Summary: Do you really have God’s call upon your life? If so, what has He disclosed to you? What are you doing about it? Have you consulted your mentor or pastor about it? Are you completely captivated by God?
Opening Illustration: Narrative of how my call came about.
Introduction: In the focus text, Samuel lives in a precarious time when “the word of the LORD was rare” (verse 1). This is a continuation of the problem at the end of book of Judges where “all the people did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Indeed, 1 Samuel 2 speaks of how Eli’s own sons did what was right in their own eyes in their work as priests (1 Samuel 2:11-17). The times are as dark as the night that falls at the beginning of the story.
The boy, Samuel, is bedded down in the temple with the Ark of the Covenant while Eli slept in another room. The boy hears a voice calling and three times arises and goes to Samuel to ask what he wants. We know that it is God who is calling the boy, but he does not. Even Eli does not understand what is happening right away. Eventually however, Eli tells the boy to speak to the Lord.
How to discern God’s call upon your life?
1. Take assistance from your mentor/pastor (vs. 4-9)
Perhaps Eli had been slow in connecting the dots because: "In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions" (1 Samuel 3:1). Maybe the lack of seeing and hearing God was symptomatic of the spiritual bankruptcy of God's people and their leaders rather than a lack of effort on God's part. Everyone doing what was right in their own eyes had left them blind and deaf … barren wombs and lifeless tombs.
God did not just create the world and walk away. God desires to speak to us and to have a relationship with us. God has always taken the initiative in speaking to man. We just need to learn to listen. Sometimes we’re like Samuel: we don’t hear very well because we need instruction. Samuel did not recognize God’s voice until Eli explained it to him. Sometimes we’re like Eli: we do not hear from God because we are spiritually sluggish. Remember, it took Eli three times to figure out what was going on. But sometimes we’re like Eli’s sons: we do not hear from God because we have closed our ears to God’s word and we are disobedient. You can’t expect to hear from God when you are covering up your ears. God wants to speak to us, but sometimes we don’t hear very well because we got too much wax in our ears. A clean up of our system is required.
God's call is God's problem. If God is going to call you into His service, He is responsible to make this known to you. He cannot hold you responsible for what He fails to do. Of course, God will not fail in any way. We recognize that, if He calls, He is perfectly capable of making this call known and that He will in fact make it known. If God calls you into His service, nothing else will really satisfy you. So, if you can really be happy and satisfied doing something else, it would not appear that the Lord has called you into His service.
We may miss God’s call or attribute it to someone else. Most people who speak of their call do not describe a major disruption in their lives. There are few Damascus Road experiences. Instead, they speak of a quiet, slow awakening to something, be that a life of a particular office in the church, an injustice that needs to be addressed, or a task that needs attention. Like Samuel, they often tell of a period of uncertainty about exactly what and why God is calling them. In addition, Samuel needed Eli to help him understand his call. It often takes others in our lives to aid us in understanding the call that God places before us. Part of our community of faith is to aid each other to see and live out our individual callings from God.
Do you think you are called just because your parents, wife or some family member or friend said you need to pursue ministry? All the examples in God’s Word tell us that God approached and called people directly but they needed assistance through their mentors to get them where they had to be. Without that it was not going to happen. If we say, we have a call on our lives, it is necessary that it be affirmed and discerned by the church leadership today. This process is necessary so that self-proclaimed ministers do not step into ministry without godly witnesses. That is how wolves can come in sheep’s clothing to jeopardize God’s ministry which needs to be protected at all times.
Illustration: During one of the Elim tours in Eastern Iowa, one of the lead organizers of the event came up to me after our event was over and said, “Many pastors and ministry folks in America have a mama’s call upon their life but I can see that you don’t.” “I praise and thank God that you have God’s call upon your life.”