The figure of young Samuel, as he is disturbed from his rest, as he is called out by the Voice of God, is the figure of us all. And, like Samuel, we usually take a little while to recognise the call as being indeed, the Voice of God.
What we must learn to recognise is that God still does call each of us, clearly and directly. God is not silent in our age. He simply speaks with a different voice.
Actually, it was just a few weeks ago, at Christmas, that we celebrated the Incarnation, the fact that God has chosen to interrupt, to enter into our lives through the lives of other human beings. It is through what we hear from others, what we see of them, what we experience of them that each of us hears God’s call, experience’s God’s grace.
And that fact is really a fairly reliable yardstick for us to use in measuring the success, the authenticity of our attempts to find God in our lives, to pick out which of the hundreds of voices we hear is really that of God’s.
Put it another way. What do I actually do, in the course of a day,that is in any way of benefit to those around me? Are the human beings that people my circumstances better off because I am part of those circumstances? How do I experience the irritations, the nuisances of my human surroundings? As simply that, as irritation, no more, or do I give in, preoccupy myself with a noisy resentment, even anger, so noisy that I may even fail to hear in that irritation a call?
To put it another way, how much do I insist that God’s voice always sounds like God, or better, what I think God should sound like, before I agree to listen?
Perhaps, sometimes, the voice that we hear won’t sound much like God. Perhaps it will sound more like a complaining friend, a demanding co-worker, an upset or dissatisfied family member.
Perhaps God’s voice will sound like a seemingly foolish and limiting law or regulation, in the community, in civil society, in the Church. Perhaps God’s voice will sound simply like the practical needs of daily living, the pressures simply of supporting one’s self and one’s dependents.
So, today, no less surely than before, God calls to God’s people. And today, no less surely than before, we will hear that voice only if we are willing to recognise it for what it is. And the mark of our success will be how willing we are to accept God’s call on God’s terms, rather than on our own.
Our willingness to simply say, “Here I am. I am listening. What do you want me to do?”.