How do we say, “Yes,” to God? In a world full of clutter and distraction, it is difficult to hear the voice of God. We are always thinking about what is next and are so busy managing our circumstances that we seldom come up for air. We are surrounded by voices of expectation, desire, fear, and worry. The culture around us feeds the same narrative: “Your worth is in what you do, what you have, and what you accomplish.” But this is not the voice of God. The voice of God simply says, “You are my beloved child and there is nothing in this world that could make me love you any more or less.”
God speaks in unexpected moments. In 1 Samuel Chapter 3, God appears in a whisper to the sleeping Samuel. A distant voice calls out, “Samuel!” and wakes him. Samuel responds by running to Eli exclaiming, “Here I am. Did you call me?” Eli, understandably confused and disoriented sends Samuel back to bed. Shortly thereafter, the voice calls out to Samuel a second time, causing Samuel to hurry to Eli’s side to offer assistance. Yet again, Eli sends Samuel away. The voice then calls Samuel a third time and upon sharing the news, Eli realizes God’s attempt to speak with Samuel. Eli sends Samuel away again, but not before giving instructions on how to respond to God’s voice. When God reaches out to Samuel later that evening, Samuel is able to respond with, “Speak, your servant is listening,” and “Here I am.” In other words, “Yes, let Your will be done in me.”
Without Eli’s direction, Samuel would have remained confused and unable to identify God’s voice. Like Samuel, we need to be pointed toward God and reminded that God is always looking to communicate with us. The story of Samuel and Eli reminds us that God’s voice sounds familiar like a human voice. As worship leaders, we have the incredible opportunity to point our congregation to God’s movement each week. Eli did not have to explain how or why God was at work, but merely point Samuel to God’s presence. In our prayer, singing, and preaching we can do the same by reminding all people that God is near. As we worship together, those in our congregation are able to quiet the outer voices and discern the voice of God that meets them where they are. That voice elicits the response, “Here I am, Lord.” It is only then that the heart can truly say, “Yes, and Amen!” May the God who meets us in the mundane and unexpected help us discern and point those around us to that voice.