He could not see. 

If Samuel’s calling were made into a film, an overhead camera might pan across the land of Israel and zoom in on the shrine at Shiloh, where the priest Eli lay asleep in an exterior room. Meanwhile, a voice-over would say that spiritual visions had become rare in the land and that Eli’s own vision had grown weak (1 Samuel 3:2). The movie’s hero, a boy named Samuel, would lie in another room, close to the ark of the covenant.

In this scene, the director would be portraying two “sleepers.” One, Samuel, dwells intimately close to God’s presence, unaware that he will soon be called to be Israel’s next prophet. The other, Eli, is farther away from God but familiar with his ways from a lifetime of study and service. By placing these two together, God ensures that Eli will help Samuel recognize God’s call and respond to him.

The calling of Samuel reminds us that we aren’t alone in our efforts to understand God’s call. He gives us brothers and sisters in Christ who can use their different gifts to help us hear and accept it. That means that none of us individually needs to try and discern God’s will for our lives on our own. God has united us as a body of believers, some of whom are meant to accompany and guide us on our faith journey. The Lord works through these friends, spiritual directors, and confessors to help us to “see” so that we can know and follow his will for every season of our lives.

So if you are trying to discover what God might be saying to you, you may get clarity through the help and prayers of another believer. Sometimes God wants us to rely on others just so that we can have more confidence in his direction and guidance. Not only that, but he uses these opportunities to knit us closer to one another.

Of course, we all experience some degree of trial and error in this. It took three tries before Samuel and Eli finally recognized God’s voice! But with the help of a fellow disciple, you too will be able to hear the Lord’s call and say to him, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).

“Lord, send me trusted friends who can help me to follow you more closely.”

Psalm 40:2, 5, 7-10
Mark 1:29-39
1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20


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