Ever wish you were Samuel, and God’s voice spoke more clearly to you? I know I often cry out, when I’m not sure what God is calling me to do, Oh, if only I were Samuel! Then again, how many repeated calls might I miss, like Samuel, and dash off in the wrong direction? Eli guided Samuel to hold still the next time he heard the voice, and just say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (Samuel 3: 3-10)
As I reflect on today’s Old Testament passage, I realize, I’ve never uttered these wise words. I may thrash out in my fears and frustrations, God, just tell me what to do! But rare is the wise moment where I just hold still, and tell God I’m listening. In fact, my usual refrain, is: Lord, I don’t know what to do with all these burdens. Here they are; I place them at the foot of your cross. Please shine your light on all this mess.
I realize, with the help of Samuel’s example, and Eli’s wise words, that I vacillate between interrogatory prayer and giving up. Now, I’ve often thought “giving it all to God” was faithful, but I think I missed something in the extremes. God does not always give us a directive that gets through our layers of busyness and confusion quickly and clearly. But, he does not want us to give up, and he uses us to solve problems so we can grow in charity and wisdom. It all starts with holding still and listening.
Practicing stillness is challenging for me. I often wish I had six more hours to every day; then I’d be sure to get “it” all done. I have little time for stillness, but I know I can make time for that, if I put a higher priority in this.
And have you ever found yourself frenetic, and you realize how much time you wasted, just in the fretting, and in the inefficient motions? If we can still ourselves, think clearly, and move more methodically, we actually accomplish more, without the stresses and strains we add with our anxieties and impatience.
Anne put a challenge to us this short season of Ordinary Time, to count our days – the real meaning of Ordinalis (ordinary) – well over these weeks preceding Lent. Here are my resolutions:
- Prioritize stillness at the beginning of each day. In my prayers of thanks and praise, along with my long list of intercessions, I will just hold still and say: “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
- When I don’t know what to “do” I’ll resist the spiritual temptation to dump all at the foot of the cross. Instead, I’ll ask God to show me what I’m to do, and to show me what I’m to let Him handle.
Today’s Gospel (John 1 :35-42) relates a critical scene where John the Baptist turned to two of Jesus’ disciples and announced, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Like Eli guiding Samuel, so John guides the disciples to realize more fully what was right in their midst.
Thank God for all the guides who lead us to turn our ear heavenward, to turn our eyes toward the light, and to redirect our lives to The Presence.