This last weekend, I kept coming back to a passage of scripture. Every time I opened a Bible I came to the same passage. Not being the sharpest, it took me a while, but I got there, God had a word for me. The passage is 1 Samuel 3:1-3, "Meanwhile the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon. One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle, near the Ark of God."
Now this passage is continues to one of those famous interchanges between God and humanity. God is calling Samuel and finally Sam responds by saying here I am Lord. That, however, is not what caught me. This passage also contains words for our time in that messages and visions were uncommon and rare, still there is another focus I would like to have.
Note where we find Samuel when the Lord calls to him. The text tells us that Sam is in the Tabernacle, near the Ark of God. So I guess this would mean that in order to have God speak to us we need to start sleeping at the church. In particular in the worship space of the church. Hopefully we all can see the foolishness of this idea. Yet there is something very significant. The Ark of God was the place where the people of Sam's day believed God was most present. So we find Sam as close to God as he could earthly get, and God spoke to him.
In my life I am constantly looking for messages and visions from God. I so long to hear from God and see what God wants me to see. I long to have God call my name so I can respond, here I am Lord. Plain and simple it does not happen as often as I would like. There are seasons of my life when messages and visions from God are very rare and quite uncommon. I ask God to reveal to me the truth. I ask God for direction. Yet I often feel lost and out of touch.
This 1 Samuel passages confronts me with a truth I wish not to be confronted with. God longs to bring a message and a vision to me and to you, only God cannot. Why? Because we are not sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. I am not getting as close to God as earthly possible. My desire is to have God simply respond to my beck and call without doing the work of relationship and intimacy.
So if you want to come and sleep in the sanctuary of the church, come. More importantly, if you want to hear and see God, do what every it takes to get as close to God as earthly possible.