HAS JESUS CALLED YOU?
T. PIERCE BROWN
As we look at the inspired and inspiring story of Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, we are impressed with several important lessons that have special relevance to young persons and their parents. The fact that his mother gave him to the Lord may be an important key to the whole story, but it is important to know that no matter what his mother did, he had to give himself. How much easier it would be for young people to give themselves, if their parents were willing to give them! I have been amazed, shocked, chagrined and disturbed over the years by the number of Christian (?) parents who would make a sacrifice to send their child to school to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer or be trained in another lucrative or prestigious field, but would resist any effort by the child or others to give himself for a life (or even for a year or two) as a full time servant of God.
Samuel was ministering before the Lord, though young and somewhat ignorant of God’s word. “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth” (Eccl. 12:1) is an admonition that is as badly needed as it ever was. Notice some background and conditions that culminated in his call, and helped him respond properly.
First, he was willing to listen. The ear is attuned by the soul to hear what we consider important and what we want to hear. A trained musician can hear notes and disharmony that others would not notice. I heard of a banker and his friend, a naturalist, walking down the street together. They heard a noise. Someone said, “What was that?” The banker replied, “I think it was a coin that someone dropped on the sidewalk.” The naturalist said, “I heard a cricket.” Almost 50 years ago when our first son was born, Tomijo and I took turns taking care of him at night. The nights when it was my turn, I could hear his faintest whimper and get up to change or feed him. The heart makes the whole body an ear! Is your ear attuned to God?
Second, and closely related to that, he had a spirit of reverence that caused him to be willing to hear, respond, and submit when he found God’s will. I am more convinced than ever that there is nothing more basic to the way we live than our attitude toward God. Even the idea of God as a softhearted Grandfather who will tolerate anything, or as a harsh Father who is waiting to punish any aberration will cause totally different life styles. We need to help our children have the true Biblical concept of God, which is neither of the above.
Samuel received a call from God. Each of us does, but it is possible that in our effort to overthrow the false denominational idea of some still small voice or some feeling that “is better felt than told” we have so downplayed the calling of God that few persons have a feeling that God calls us to do or be anything. In our invitation songs we may say, “God is calling the Prodigal” or “Jesus calls us” or other such expressions, but in my judgment, we seldom emphasize as we should the fact that the gospel message and Great Commission are not merely suggestions, but a call of God. Time and space forbid that I list all the scripture references similar to 1 Peter 2:9, which says, “He called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
This call may involve unpleasant tasks. He had to tell Eli some bad things that were going to happen to his house because he had not restrained his sons from their wicked ways. But he told it. If young persons do not learn early that “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel15:22) whatever answer they give to God’s call will prove to be in vain.
The right response to the Lord’s call insures victory. “The Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel3:19). This is the promise of Jesus in the Great Commission, “I am with you always.” It may be of interest to note the emphatic form of this promise in the original language. The expression “ego meth humon eimi” suggests, “I, myself, even I” am with you. Even the thought that “I am” rather than “I will be” suggests the answer the Lord gave to Moses when they might ask who sent him. He said to tell them, “I AM hath sent me” (Exodus3:14).
We need to make clear in our teaching that every call of God demands a response. Did you hear of the preacher who had a gospel meeting and reported 1000 responses? When he was asked in more detail, he revealed that 998 had responded, “No” and two had responded, “Yes.” In teaching preachers and personal evangelists over the last 40 years, I have tried to emphasize that we need to make our prospects aware that when they have learned what God wants of them, they do not simply delay a response. If they do not at the proper time, when they understand the will of God, yield to the Lord’s call, they have responded, “No” and have rejected God. This is serious business. Anytime you are sure from God’s revealed will that he wants something from you and you do not obey, you have rejected God. But if you answer as Samuel did, in humble instant obedience, you will be blessed and used of God for His glory and for the good of humanity.