AND THE JOURNEY BEGINS
10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10
Our goal during this lenten journey is to do all that we can to stay connected together with our church family. We are walking through this time together in hopes of God revealing the next steps that we will all walk into with opens hearts and minds. The journey begins somewhere and today that journey begins with us all stepping up to the starting line. I know that when I was younger and ran track, the starting line was something that caused me great anxiety. I mean I was fast and I loved to run, but for some crazy reason that line gave me so much angst and caused me to truly doubt my abilities that God had given me. The starting line is intimidating to so many and for that reason many are finished before they even begin their journey. What I am asking for all of us to do today is to pray of the journey that we will encounter together. Over the next 6 weeks, we will find ourselves struggling to take the steps that are necessary for God to reveal His plan. We will have such confidence, but when asked to finally take our marks and get ready, the starter pistol will shoot and many of us will be terrified to even take the first steps. See, what I am saying is that this lenten journey that we are on is not the race...NO it is the training to prepare us to even be ready to step up to the starting blocks.
I know that that may seem crazy for a lot of us because we truly believe that Lent is part of the race and I just want you to hear me out. Lent is a time of preparation. It is the days that Jesus spent preparing Himself to begin the journey to the cross and eventually the grave. It was the last weeks of His life that caused Him to appreciate more each relationship and encounters that He had. The same should be said for us as well. Lent is a journey of preparation in which God comes into our lives and offers a way for us to step out of the
chaos and begin the rigorous training for the future. It is a way to separate us from the world and take hold of the precious moments we have along the way. If I could open our eyes to see that we too have a cross to carry and a life that may end soon, we would ALL be trying to find the seriousness of the situations and enjoy each day to the fullest. I cannot give you that answer of when that day will come for any of us, but I can tell you that today, we are one day closer than we were yesterday. Today we are walking in the footsteps of God to prepare us to start this journey that leads to freedom through the death and resurrection of Christ. Remember that our journey does not end with the cross, that is where it actually begins.
In our Scripture for today, we watch as a student by the name of Samuel has been given over by his mother to work in the Temple with the prophet Eli. Samuel was a gift from God to his mom and she promised that if she was gifted a child that she would give him back to God. In doing so, Samuel's job was to protect the Arc of God and to make sure that the lamp never went out. He had not personally had an encounter with God until God was ready for Samuel's journey to begin. We see that as he is sleeping in the room, God spoke his name multiple times and each time Samuel got up and ran to Eli to ask what he needed. Eli had no idea what Samuel was talking about because Eli's actions had caused his ears to fall silent to God's voice. Finally, after the third time, Eli understood that is was God calling out to Samuel and told him to respond in this way, "Speak, for your servant is listening." See Samuel had been prepping for most of his life to have this encounter with God, but it took him many years before he was ready to step into the starter spot. Maybe the same is true for many of us. We have never truly heard the audible voice of God, and God has been working to prepare you for the moment He is ready for YOU to start your ministry. Maybe, just maybe, God has been speaking to you your whole life but we continue to run to the wrong voices and we fail to offer God our lives to serve.
Today, I want you to be prepared to answer God. I know that we are asking that each of you begin and end your days with these words that were inspired by Samuel's encounter with God, "Father, Here I am. What can I do for you? AMEN." Ten very small words, but that offer an opportunity for God to step in and show you his plan for your life. I am just asking that we ALL say these words together as our first words and last words. I am asking that we step into this journey of preparation together as we get closer to what God has in store. I don't want us to miss it and keep running to the world for answers as Samuel did three times. I want us to develop ears of discernment that will pick up on the subtle voice of God and be ready to listen as He speaks to us. This is not going to be easy, but I promise that if you take the time
to offer your life to God, God will be ready to reveal His plan to you. If we are all willing to let go of the things that cause us to stumble and direct our ears to hear God, who has probably been screaming for years, God will prepare us for whatever may be coming next. Remember that our Christian journey is not a sprint but a marathon that is filled with many different challenges and pitfalls. But we are not in it alone. With every failure there is a life lesson that we learn in preparation for the next challenge that may come. So I pray that today is a tune up for our ears and hearts. I pray that as we start this journey that will lead us to the starting line, we recognize the importance of each day. Please, don't let any day slip from your life. Take hold and get ready to press the start button. I cannot wait to see what God is about to do when all of His servants finally get on the same page. Ladies and gentlemen get ready, for the race is about to begin. Father, Here I am. What can I do for you today? AMEN.