Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So, Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So, Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Sam. 3: 8-10, NIV)
When you think of American history, who comes to mind as a visionary – someone whose vision changed the world? Our founding fathers come to mind for me as the definition of visionaries. How about Henry Ford? Thomas Edison? Orville Wright? Martin Luther King, Jr.? Steve Jobs?
The Scriptures tell the stories of many visionaries: Moses, the prophets, Samuel, the Apostle Paul, and John during his exile on the Isle of Patmos. You will find several things to be true about them: 1) God did not give them visions while their lives were steeped in sin, and 2) Their hearts were sold out in obedience to God.
If we consider Samuel’s story, look back at the first verse of 1 Samuel 3, “The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.” Visions were rare because sin had corrupted the house of Eli, through the diabolical doings of his sons and Eli’s own blind eye. Samuel received the visions Eli was no longer able to receive because he had a heart for God. There are important lessons here for us. If we are looking to receive God’s vision for our lives – even for our church – we will not receive that vision if our lives are swamped in sin. Our hearts must be right with God.
We must also be willing to receive the vision God has for us. This is another takeaway from the story of Samuel. If we are not open to seeing what God sees, his vision will not become ours. Michael Duduit with www.ministrymatters.com tells the story of a salesman who called on a farmer one day and began making a presentation about a new book on farming. The salesman assured the farmer that the book contained a wealth of new techniques that would make him a better farmer.
“I don’t need any new book.” answered the farmer. “I already know more about farming than I’m willing to do now.”
Far too often, we ask for a vision from God, but with conditions. “God, I’m willing to do what you want as long as it doesn’t require any change on my part,” OR “I’m willing, God, as long as you don’t ask anything that is hard or inconvenient for me.” Telling God what to do does not represent openness to God’s leadership in our lives. You may have heard the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” God holds the bigger picture of heaven and earth. He desires to be our guide. He most assuredly does not need our guidance.
Erwin McManus, in his book Seizing Your Divine Moment, writes about an immigrant from Argentina named Aldo, now living in the United States. Aldo spent most of his adult life teaching in public schools. For years he saw the need for someone to create positive opportunities for underprivileged children in his city.
"Repeatedly, Aldo suggested that someone should do something to help the children. Then one day it became clear to him that he was that someone. He started a soccer clinic at a nearby elementary school, which evolved into a team and later formed a league. To date, hundreds of children and their families have become the direct beneficiaries of Aldo's initiative."
God called to young Samuel three times before he realized it was God calling out to him. Could God be calling us, but we are not hearing? Do we think someone else should fix the problems we face? Perhaps like Aldo, God is saying to us, "YOU are that someone." One person can make a difference. History tells the story of many people who have. Let God SHOW you. Open our eyes, dear Lord, so we may see!
Serving the Risen King,