As we get older things begin to change. Our hair gets grey (if we have it), our muscles become less flexible, our eyesight diminishes and we suffer hearing loss. The receptors in our inner ear get damaged or die and we simply do not hear as well. The range of sounds we once enjoyed now seem to be undetectable to us. Unfortunately for us physically, there is little, if anything, we can do to change hearing loss.
In 1 Samuel 3 there is this story of young Samuel living with the elderly priest Eli, when God speaks to him. It is in an audible voice. Only after the fourth time does Samuel realise that it is God, and he answers, “‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
A couple of observations about this story.
Samuel is listening. He is open to the possibility that God might speak, especially after the priest Eli alerts him to his suspicion that it is the voice of God he is hearing. It raises the question, Are you listening? Are you open to the possibility that God is speaking to you? Do you ,like the young Samuel, dare to believe that God speaks and so you go and ready yourself to hear His voice?
It’s an audible voice. In the case of this story, God seems to speak through an audible voice. This is not always the case. Sometimes you hear God speaking to you as you read His Word and a verse or thought leaps out to you. It may be a word of encouragement or insight from another. There may be a series of circumstances where God is directing your path without having to say a word. At other times, it is a feeling, a leading, a nudge and you sense God is asking you to call someone, go somewhere or do something. It may be through a dream, a vision or you may well get the audible voice. Don’t just wait for the audible voice though – it is not the only way God speaks to us. It is likely that God is speaking to you over and over again, but you may not be hearing because you are waiting for the Samuel experience, or you don’t expect to hear His voice.
There is also a tragic part to the story. The priest of God does not hear His voice. He knows enough to know that God speaks, but he cannot hear the voice. Has he lost the capacity to hear God? It is not clear in this story why God doesn’t speak to him, but I suspect anyone reading this story wants the experience of Samuel rather than Eli.
Don’t settle for a life where others are the ones who hear the voice of God. Don’t assume God speaks to others but not you. Don’t assume that you have lost the capacity to hear. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4: 16 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Your capacity to hear from God does not diminish with age in the same way your physical hearing does. If you ready yourself to be open to the ways in which God speaks to you, then you might just hear the voice of God who wants to be intimately involved in the affairs of your day.