Our story begins with a woman named Hannah. Like Sarah, Abraham’s wife, Hannah was unable to have children, but, also like Sarah, God worked a miracle, and Hannah finally conceived. She gave birth to a son, and she named him Samuel “[b]ecause I asked the Lord for him” (1 Samuel 1:20, NIV).
Samuel was serving in the house of God as just a boy when he began hearing voices as he slept. Three times he went to Eli, the priest for whom he was working, because Samuel thought Eli was calling him. After the third time, Eli understood it was God’s voice Samuel was hearing, so Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if [the Lord] calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening’.” Samuel did as he was told, and God returned a fourth time, calling, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9-10, NIV).
God did speak, Samuel did listen, and the author of what is now the First Book of Samuel recorded, “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.” (1 Samuel 3:19-4:1, NIV)
The story of young Samuel gives us two insights into living our lives with a heart for God.
First, the sequence of events is exactly what we should expect when we offer our lives to God. He calls, and we listen; He equips, and we act; He empowers, and we – and others – see the results. Sometimes the results are extraordinary, but, even if they are not, they are always achieved through extraordinary love.
Second, all this came about because God called Samuel. In fact, God did not just call Samuel, He called him by name.
Perhaps you think this point is inconsequential. Perhaps you even think the story of young Samuel has no application to your life today. If this is your opinion, then I humbly suggest you are wrong. Completely wrong. And you are going to miss out on some of the greatest blessings of Almighty God.
The world today
In our world today, in this climb-to-the-top-of-the-ladder, do-whatever-you-need-to-do-to-get-ahead-and-stay-ahead world, many people feel like cogs in a proverbial wheel. Lives seem unimportant, and nobody outside one’s small circle of family and friends seems to care. Get up, get going, work, eat, sleep – and then repeat everything over and over again in a monotonous and life-draining cycle of existence.
This is not what God wants for you, and it is certainly not what God has planned for you.
Yes, you need to make a living, but what God really wants you to do is make a life. A life for Him. For others. For eternity.
God is calling you – and He is calling you by name. I do not just think this, I know it. The cross of Jesus Christ and His empty tomb demonstrate unquestionably what is possible when we lay down our lives for the glory of God, the service of His Kingdom, and the salvation of souls.
And you do not have to be the Son of God, or a prophet like Samuel or a church leader, to make a difference.
What it means for you
Being called by name by the Creator of the universe has three crucial meanings in your life and for your life.
First, it means God knows you. And not just in general but by name. In a world in which so many people feel lost and alone, understanding that God knows your name and has called you by your name is extremely significant. So many individuals living their lives of quiet desperation simply want to have a place “where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” The Kingdom of God is this place, first on earth and then forever in heaven, and the One who will always know your name, and will always be glad you are with Him, is none other than the eternal and triune God.
Second, when the Lord calls you by name, it means He has a purpose and a plan for your life. You are not just some multi-celled organism caught up in random movements of the cosmos for only few moments in time. You are loved by the Eternal One who is love – and He loved you so much that He died for you.
Third, when God calls you by name, it means He trusts you. Others may not trust you, and perhaps you do not even trust yourself, but Almighty God trusts you. He who has seen all beginnings and all ends trusts you. He who called the stars and the galaxies into existence trusts you. He who called Abraham and Moses and Samuel and David trusts you. And only you can do what God wants you to do. It may seem daunting, but it shouldn’t be. If Samuel could do his part as a little boy, you can do yours – because God will be with you every step of your way just as He was with Samuel every step of his.
The moment of truth
As with all lessons drawn from the Word of God, the hardest part is not the knowing or the understanding but the doing. If you now know, and if you now understand, what will you do?
And He is calling you by name.
-- Dr. John Morris