"One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord; where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel." 1 Samuel 3:2-4
Before Samuel became a prophet of the Lord, he became His friend. No one was hearing from God for the people. Eli had gone to his "usual place" and did not take joy in being in God's presence as he once had. His zeal for God had diminished, and the joy of just being with God in His presence and listening to Him was no longer there.
"In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions" (1 Samuel 3:1). If Eli could not hear from God, the people would not receive messages from Him. The only words that we receive that are of help to people are words from God. If we don't spend time listening to Him, then we will receive no words by which we will bless and encourage His people.
As a boy, Samuel enjoyed the presence of God. We see a picture of this in 1 Samuel 3. Everyone else in the house of the Lord had gone to bed. The lights were dim and the rooms were quiet. Samuel felt the need to go back into the temple and lie down near the Ark of God instead of going to bed. He just wanted to hang out with God. He was probably thinking that since the lamp of God was still burning in the temple, why not go spend the evening in His presence.
At this point "Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him" (1 Samuel 3:7). He'd never heard God speak, but he still enjoyed His presence. I truly believe that it was because of this enjoyment in God that God spoke to him. He and Samuel became friends.
In order to hear from God, we must spend time in His presence. People need to hear from God; they need to hear the word of the Lord. We can only hear from God if we spend time with Him. We can only hear from Him if we have a relationship with Him. Our relationship to God is the most important thing in our lives, therefore we need to give it the utmost care.
Our relationship with God should not be complicated by a lot of manmade rules about how we get "into" the presence of God. We simply need to put our religious sensibilities aside and come to Him as a child. Samuel had no agenda when he went into the temple, he just wanted to spend time in God's presence. We should never go to God with a rule book in hand, but with simplicity of heart.
Several years ago the Lord showed me just how He wanted me to come to Him. I was lying on my bed trying in desperation to touch God. I did not feel His presence and I felt frustrated, not enjoying my time spent with Him at all. "Help me God!" I cried. In walked my three year old son, Cole. He bobbled into the room with a goofy grin on his face. As he sided up to the edge of the bed he said in a very silly, childish voice, "Hi!" Then he walked away. The Lord spoke to my heart at that moment, "That is how I want you to come to Me!"
God wants us to be free from all of our self-made criteria of what we think He expects from of us when we approach Him. He wants us to come to Him as we are - as a child.
God wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives. He wants to help us with even the simplest, most common tasks. He wants us to be one with Him in thought, word and deed. If we are doing the laundry, then He is doing the laundry. As we experience God in the simple areas of life, then we can rest assured that He will be there for us during the trials of life.
He Chooses to Dwell in Us
There is a secret place inside us where God dwells. When we abide with Him in the Spirit in that secret place, we will see the evidence of His presence with us. "He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High God, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1).
We have the greatest calling to fulfill in all the universe: to live for and with Christ. We are not expected to attain Christ's likeness without God's power living and working through us. We can do nothing without living every moment under the shadow of the Almighty.
His shadow is the shelter of His presence, and we can abide with Him there if we dwell in the secret place. The secret place is not a physical place like it was in Samuel's day. Our secret place is in our own hearts. We can go anywhere and still focus on Him in our spirit and be in the secret place of the Most High. We might be at work, yet we can enter into the presence of the Lord by simply going to the quiet place in our spirit and find Him there waiting for us.
It is in this place where the Lord speaks and we listen. Samuel had never heard God until he spent time in His presence. They developed a relationship with each other. Samuel became one with God; they became friends.
Being God's Friend
Years ago, I went through a season in my life when God shook everything in it. One of the things He shook was my friendships. We moved to another state and the friendships I had previously fizzled out. I tried to make friends in our new hometown, but they just didn't click. I prayed for months for God to open the door to some really good friendships, but nothing came of it. My husband, on the other hand, had no trouble making friends. I was happy for him, but his success heightened my frustration. I cried out to God, "Lord, what about me? Who will be my friend?" He spoke beautifully into my spirit, "I will be your friend; I want you to be My friend." What an honor, what a call, that He would desire to be my friend.
I began to devote myself to a deeper friendship with God than I ever had before. I realized that I had been living as His servant successfully enough, and did not realize the deep friendship I could have with Him. There is no deeper friendship we can have than with our Maker. He created us, knows us, understands us and loves us deeply. We can't convince Him we are anything more than what we are, because He knows us already. When we mess up, He understands why and responds with compassion. When we fall time and again, He is there to pick us up. There is no friend like God.
Hearing the Voice of God
As we develop our understanding of this great friendship, then He can show us how to love others. As we are first filled with the power to truly love others by loving Him and by receiving His love for us, He will give us the words of life that others desperately need to hear. But it only comes through our communion with Christ.
We need to hear the voice of the Lord! We need to hear His voice now more distinctly than ever before, because the enemy, satan, is working overtime trying to deceive us. We can stay out of deception by hearing God's voice. He gives us true wisdom and direction.
Eli had gotten used to residing in his "usual place" in the house of God. We, too, can get too used to our relationship with God the way it is. But God wants us to come out away from our "usual place" and seek Him afresh and anew - to turn from all else and seek only Him. He wants to show His love for us in a new way. He wants us to get to know Him in a fresh way and experience new aspects of His character - to experience new facets of His love.
God is calling you to a deep friendship with Him. Will you except His invitation? Open your heart to Him today and say "yes." Love Him as you have never loved Him before and watch Him enlarge your capacity to love others. Ask Him simply to do it and He will!
Speaking Life Ministries