Being Eli

March 26, 2008 | 1 Comment

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By: Staci Stallings   

In the book of Samuel we hear the story of the call of Samuel.  The boy is asleep in the temple with the Holy of Holies while Eli, Samuel’s mentor is asleep elsewhere.  When I was young, I always pictured myself as Samuel and wondered would I hear God if He called me.  Recently I heard this story again, only this time I heard it quite differently.

You see, I believe I have heard my call except it was more of a guiding hand directing my steps that brought me where God wants me to be.  There wasn’t a moment that God said, “Staci, this is what I want you to do.” But I feel very sure that this is what God wants me to do at least for this time.

When I heard this story again, I realized there is another person in the story-Eli, the old mentor.  He is asleep, which can mean literally.  It can also mean spiritually.  Often we “fall asleep” in our walk with the Lord.  Other things in life push in, and time to sit and just be gets crowded out.  Then here comes this kid, this child whom Eli is supposed to be watching out for, and he says, “Yes, sir. Here I am. You called.”

Eli is immediately puzzled.  “I didn’t call you.  Go back to sleep.”  

We say this to each other and to our kids. “You don’t have to go to church. If you have a game to play or something else to do, it’s no big deal. Go back to sleep.”  As we walk through this life with others around us, very often we not only miss our own calls, we also misinterpret another’s call.

For example, the wife in a married couple feels a calling to donate items to the poor.  The husband questions the wife’s actions because the items could at least be sold at a garage sale and bring in money for the family. Or the husband decides to make a concerted effort to go to church, but the wife drags her feet to the point that the husband gives up and stays home.     

There are a thousand ways the world around us says, “No. Don’t worry. Just go back to sleep.”

Samuel does as instructed. He goes back to sleep; however, God is persistent. He calls the youth again.  “Samuel… Samuel…”  

Again, Samuel gets up and goes to Eli. “You called?”

Now Eli is frustrated. “I did not call you. Go back to sleep!”     

Very often our attempts to get closer to God are met with serious resistance by the world. People get uncomfortable talking about faith, so we push ours over in the corner and determine to keep it to ourselves. After all, we don’t want others to think we’ve lost our minds.  Make no mistake, the darkness does not like the light, for where there is light the darkness necessarily vanishes. It is no different with the dark powers in the spiritual realm.  When that call comes from God, they will do everything they can to convince you it’s nothing. “Go back to sleep.”

The third time Samuel is sleeping, and God calls, “Samuel. Samuel.”     

I’m sure Samuel thought he was losing his mind. I’m sure he even questioned his sanity to go wake Eli up again. But he saw no other option. After all, Eli was his master. “Yes, you called?”

Finally, finally Eli gets it. “Oh, wait. I get it. I think it’s God that’s calling you…”

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To me, being Samuel is tough enough.  There’s that whole putting yourself out there to look like an idiot to your friend and mentor.  There’s also the small matter of being honest about where you are in life and what’s really happening.     

But how many times are we Eli, and we completely mess our role up? How many times does someone come to us with a problem and instead of pointing them to the One who can help, we give them worldly answers that cause more problems than they solve?  How many times do we fail to listen to God talking to us, helping us guide them to Him?  How many times are we so asleep to our own walk with God that we miss the chance to give Him to someone else?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been Eli more times than I want to count. I just hope the next time Samuel comes to me with something God is calling him to, I will recognize what’s happening the first time and point Him to the One Who lays out the plan not only for the stars and the universe but for our lives as well.


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  1. Deborah H. Bateman says: August 11, 2013

    Staci, thanks for sharing this post. It was a good analogy. I pray when God calls my name I hear Him and if someone else comes to me like Samuel did to Eli I will lead them in the right direction.
    Deborah H. Bateman


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