I asked the question, “When is the last time you had a great epiphany?” For many of us, epiphanies are the defining moments of our lives and the moments that we continually look for.
The first thing we have to answer as we seek to discern Gods will in our lives is, “Am I really listening?” Samuel is the model of a good listener in the story. Even before he knows it is God, he responds swiftly and with a willingness to obey. (See 1 Samuel 3:1-10)
Samuel is listening. He is “all In.” He is ready to move, to listen and obey This willingness to listen is set in contrast to Eli’s sons in this story.
In contrast to the young Samuel, Eli’s sons are not listening. They were known for showing up in worship dressed in their “temple best,” and while receiving the offering they would steal the best part of the offering for themselves. In addition to this abhorrent behavior, they would also sleep with the women who served in the temple. They used their position of power to exploit others for personal gain. Eli’s sons were going through the religious motions but their religion wasn’t making an impact in their lives.
This was what God said about them to Samuel.
1 Samuel 3:11-14
And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”
Eli and his sons represent today what we might call selective listening.
Selective listening happens when we say to God, I will listen to you but only in specific and isolated areas of my life. For example, I will give you control over my family but not my friend group. God can have reign in my work life but not my politics. Selective listening leads to an un-transformed life. Selective listening is how there can be glaring inconsistencies in our life and we are unable to see them.
In what area of your life are you selectively listening to God?
As we seek to discern God’s will and God’s way for our lives, it would serve us to take inventory of our life by asking and answering this question.
I began to ask this question at the beginning of 2021. I knew that there were areas of my life where I wasn’t listening to God so I began to pray about this question. It wasn’t long before something began to stir in my heart. I discerned God leading me toward simplicity and away from excess. Now, don’t get too impressed here. I am the kind of person who loves clothes and shoes and make-up and hair accessories. I would use all of my income on these things and not bat a proverbial eye if I could. But as I was praying and thinking about simplicity, my youth group began a fasting campaign. So then I fasted with this idea of simplicity in spending in mind. As I fasted and prayed and sought God’s will for my life I had a friend who lives in another state reach out to me and tell me that she was praying for me and believed that God was leading me into a season of simplicity. I began sensing that God was speaking to me about the excess in my closet (and jewelfy and make-up drawer) and leading me toward simplicity in my spending habits. So I decided to fast from excess spending for a set period of time. This means I will not buy any new clothes, shoes, make-up, hair accessories, jewelry, etc until the fast is over. For me, this is an area of my life where God is inviting me to deeper listening.
What about for you? What area of your life are you seeking God’s will about? In what area are you selectively listening? Perhaps today you will decide to say, “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”