by Pastor Billy Byler
So much of our world is filled with voices. “Buy this!” “Go here!” “See that!” “Try these!” It’s on every channel and website out there as THE way to fulfillment and happiness.
The voices don’t stop there. “Don’t do this!” “But you can’t live without that!” “If you want to succeed you’ve got to wear these, drive that, live here, watch this channel and work there!” “And don’t even think about spending time there, listening to that, reading this blog or associating with them!”
All those voices try to tell us what determines our value and how to find fulfillment, yet they all rarely say the same thing. How do we determine which voices are worth our attention? Which do we tune out and which should get our ear? Sadly, I think we’ve grown so accustomed to being exposed to so many voices that we’ve actually become pretty good and tuning all of them out – even the good ones!
Samuel once heard a voice. Long before he was a prophet – before he was of any importance at all – Samuel was a kid. And this young kid heard a voice. In 1 Samuel 3 we’re told of God calling to Samuel in the night, yet he did not understand the source of the voice. Eli, the old priest, had to help Samuel identify the voice.
“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. So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”’ –I Sam. 3:8-9a
As a pastor to young adults, I’m thankful to belong to a church that recognizes that God sometimes speaks to young people. And the perspectives, ideas and opinions young people have may just be worth hearing. But I think it’s also important for young people to realize that without Eli, Samuel was just hearing another voice. In a church as diverse and multi-generational as ours, discerning the many voices in our world requires community and partnership in ministry. I’m grateful for all the Elis out there who are willing to help our young people hear and identify that important Voice for who He is. And I’m appreciative of all the Samuels who are willing and able to listen to an older generation in order to gain wisdom and discernment in a world of many voices.