Faith Stories: Speak, Lord, For Your Servant is Listening
“‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'” 1 Samuel 3:9
In seminary, a frequent topic of conversation involves what you will do after school. Students ask if you are planning to be ordained, what you want to do after graduation and what ministry God is calling you to be a part of.
When I entered seminary two years ago at Candler School of Theology with my husband, Peter, I knew it was where God was calling me to be. However, I wasn’t really sure what that would mean for my future in ministry. It was still sort of amazing that I was pursuing a life in ministry at all. I did not grow up going to church or being a part of any religious denomination. During high school I felt called to the life of faith. I hungered to know what it meant to follow Jesus and I immediately was blessed with others who were willing to nurture me in that journey. I joined The United Methodist Church because of the leaders who were willing to be part of my spiritual journey. During that time I heard a call from God to form and shape people in the faith as I had been. So in 2009 I became the Youth Director at St. John’s.
Entering seminary, I imagined I would gain knowledge and skills that would help continue to form youth to be followers of Christ. I didn’t consider where else God might be calling me. When I began school and was constantly asked the questions of ordination and call, I became frustrated because I felt God hadn’t given me much more direction than “go to seminary.” I started to get restless and angry that my fellow classmates and Peter had wonderful and clear call stories while I waited and hoped God would speak to me about what might be next for my life.
During my second year at Candler I took a class that focused on discernment. The course helped me to realize that in my prayers to God for direction, I was not really listening. Instead I was only listening for the direction I wanted for my life. I was trying to shape God’s call for me and in the process I had failed to listen to what bigger plans God may have in store.
The Scripture of 1 Samuel came to my mind. Although the Lord was calling Samuel by name, he could not fathom this sort of dialogue with God. He could not see or understand what was right in front of him. Ironically, the blind Eli realizes it first. Eli instructs Samuel to “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'”
My time at seminary has opened my heart to be in faithful dialogue with God. I finally got out of the way and said, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” That was all that I needed to do. I now clearly see and hear that God has called me to a life of Ordained Ministry. Each day I continue to be as faithful as I can to that call and I continue to be open to God’s voice.
Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.