Speak, for your servant is listening

Lord, I’m here. Speak, for your servant is listening. What a powerful prayer to pray. Simple. Direct. And yet so deep. With these few words one is literally taking on the posture of the humblest of servants. With these words we hear the very call for every Christ follower. We see an image of one’s own heart bowing to the creator of the Universe. These words reveal the very message of God. This is a picture of not only a humble person…. But a person responding to God’s call out of simple obedience. 

Those aren’t my words. These words come from 1 Samuel 3. This is the story of Samuel’s call into ministry. In 1 Sam 3:1-10 we read:

“1 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 

2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening”’ (NIV).  

Photo by KEEM IBARRA on Unsplash

I think most people read this and think, “That’s a nice story, but what does that have to do with me? I’m not called to be a minister or a lay-leader, and I’m most certainly not called to be a prophet!” To be honest, there is a lot of truth to thoughts like this. And it’s perfectly normal to respond in this way. If this is you… that’s absolutely ok. Not everyone is called to ministry in a way that most people view ministry. However, we are all called to serve. 

That’s right. We, every last one of us, are called to serve. We are called to take part in God’s great mission of reconciling His creation back to himself, His mission for redemption. And get this…. Serving happens in everyday situations…It doesn’t have to be planned. In fact I would argue that there are more unplanned opportunities to serve than there are planned opportunities. 

Along with this, serving others can be as simple as holding a door open for someone. It’s more about looking for those opportunities to help someone. You know, when that person in front of you drops their wallet and you stoop down to pick it up for them…. Not a big deal, but it was an opportunity to be Jesus for someone, even for just a brief moment. 

I remember one Christmas season Beccy, my wife, and I were walking through a crowded mall one Saturday afternoon. As we were shopping, I noticed something fall out of a women’s trench coat. I remember quickly picking it up, and then Beccy and I were chasing the woman down until we could give it back to her. I know it’s not a big gesture, but to this woman you would have thought we saved her from being hit by a moving train. Now I can’t say whether or not the woman went to church or accepted Christ because of our kindness, but this is an example of a simple way to be Jesus in everyday life. 

Photo by Rémi Walle on Unsplash

Let me give you a better example of what I’m talking about. 

I remember another time when I was out to lunch with our pastor and a few of the staff members. We were having a great time of fellowship and bonding, and as always we would include our server in our conversations. As the meal was winding down and the checks were being paid, I heard our pastor ask our server if there was anything that she needed prayer for. Turns out that this young woman’s car kept breaking down, and as a result she had been late to work on several occasions and was given her last warning that very morning. Our pastor began to make some phone calls, and by the end of the conversation he, along with some of the other men from our church, met the young woman at her work and gave her a well running vehicle! As a result she began to attend the church and gave her life to Christ! 

The point I’m trying to get across here is simply this:  acts of service happen in the big and small moments. The opportunities are all around us to simply be Jesus to those around us. If we are to be followers of Christ, then we MUST take the posture of the humble servant willing and waiting for those moments when God calls, and we must respond like Samuel… “Speak, for your SERVANT is listening.”

Published by Pastor Garry D. McGlinchy

I am the lead pastor of Culpeper Hope Community Church of the Nazarene in Northern Virginia. I write about my understanding of Scripture and the way that it intersects culture today. As a pastor, I fight for the underdog, those who are often on the margins of society.

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