The story was told by one of my former teachers of a time when the lower grade classroom of Messiah Lutheran School in Hales Corners was working on an art project. I was in second grade at the time, and my classmate, Gretchen, already having finished her project, walked up to my desk and asked if I wanted help finishing mine. Apparently, my response was, “Let me see yours first.” Isn’t that a typical response? Even from childhood, most of us just don’t like getting ourselves into commitments before we know exactly what we can expect.
That wasn’t the response of another young Samuel, however. When the great prophet was still just a child serving in the tabernacle, the Lord called out to him by night. “Samuel!” Three times he ran to Eli the priest and responded, “Here I am!” (1 Samuel 3:1-10 ESV) Finally, he recognized the Lord’s voice and answered Him, “Speak, for your servant hears.” Notice the readiness in all of Samuel’s replies. “Here I am . . . Speak, for your servant hears.” With the confident trust of a child, it’s as if he’s saying, “I don’t know what is coming or what you will require of me; but whatever it is, I will listen to and follow you.”
As New Testament Christians living in the joy of Christ’s resurrection, we ought to have that same confident readiness in every station of life. Wherever God leads us, we ought to joyfully go. This would be in keeping with our Savior’s exhortation, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 ESV)
But can we really claim that kind of “Lord, wherever you lead, I will follow” readiness? Don’t we often respond to God in the same way that I responded to my classmate? We don’t want to get into any commitments without first knowing what to expect. So rather than “Speak, for your servant hears,” we’re often telling God, “Listen, for your servant is speaking.” Instead of trusting the Lord in His wisdom to care for us, we make demands of Him; we hope to wrestle His control away and determine our own life’s course.
Nevertheless, the Lord calls us to crucify the illusion of our control and simply to follow Him. It would be foolish to do so with anyone else, but with the Lord we have good reason. For as we consider our responses that often lack that “here I am” readiness, let’s also consider when the opposite was said of God. That was that Sunday morning in the spring many years ago, when the women went to the tomb to embalm the body of their Lord. Finding the tomb empty, they encountered the angels, who announced, “He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:6 ESV) This is all the assurance we need to confidently follow Christ, not knowing what will come next, perhaps, but trusting Him to lead us all the same. After all, the Apostle Paul wrote in his epistle, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17 ESV) If Christ had not been raised, we would be fools to respond to God’s call as Samuel did.
Thanks be to God that Christ has been raised. The resurrection proves the Lord’s will for each of us. Christ has assured us, “Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19 ESV) Whatever God has in store for us next in this life, we know that it will work together for our good, namely, for our salvation (Romans 8:28). We may not know every detail of our futures here, but we know that our eternal future is secure in Him. Therefore, we can follow with every confidence, saying, “Lord, here I am . . . Speak, for Your servant hears.”
Samuel Rodebaugh is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Winter Haven, Florida.