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Keep Listening

Sunday mornings are often a bit rough here in the Hjelmervik household. A leisurely morning quickly turns into chaos due to running late, a misplaced LEGO, or a forgotten book. We are certainly not a picture of tranquility. This past Sunday was especially one that will be brought up in future therapy sessions. After certain children were playing on stairs, despite their mother telling them again and again not to, there was, of course, a head injury. Said injured child was okay after some ice. Said mother was not. I may have raised my voice. And I might even have spoken in an angry tone. One of my kids might have sat in a chair wailing, “That voice just hurts my heart. I can feel my heart just breaking in my chest, Mama!” Thank you in advance to their future therapists for teasing out that one. Needless to say, the mood was subdued in the minivan on the drive to church.

I found Mark and told him what had happened, my less than admirable reaction, and I explained why one of our boys had a red gash under his right eye. Mark sheepishly said, “I promise this has nothing to do with you, but I am planning to speak on God’s voice today. I was going to use an example of how parents’ voices affect their children.”

Nothing to do with me indeed. Sometimes, the Lord whispers, but other times he yells.

I had, of course, already apologized to the boys, asked for forgiveness, and explained that my reason for being so angry was because I have told them not to do that 437 times. They are blessedly quick-to-forgive kind of people, and after discussing how our hearts don’t actually break apart because of loud noises, they moved on.

So, all that to say, I’ve been thinking about the Lord’s voice in our lives. The whispers, the commands, the nudges. A part of the passage read on Sunday was from 1 Samuel 3: 8-10:

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.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel! ”Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

This passage is one of the first Bible stories I remember actually reading for myself. As a 2nd grader, I loved the example of God speaking to a child. However, as an adult, I can’t help but notice what comes next in this story. God’s message for Samuel is not exactly pleasant and it does not bode well for Eli. Verse 15 goes on to explain that Samuel is afraid to even tell Eli the message. In the end, however, Samuel does, and Eli learns clearly of the Lord’s righteousness.

It is one thing to lean into God, to be in an undistracted place and sense a word from the Holy Spirit. It is quite another thing to continue listening, even if the message is something we do not want to hear. This past Sunday, I was not super excited to hear the sermon. I almost volunteered myself to hang out in the nursery. The message I heard was, yes, I need to have a posture that’s ready to hear from the Lord. But I also need to keep listening. Even when the message is hard. Even when the message is, “Your tone affects your children and out of the overflow of your heart, the mouth speaks”. What a freedom is found when God is tender enough to remind us of our shortcomings. Out of His great love for us, He does not leave us in our pits.

A couple of weeks ago, putting Andrew to bed, he said, “Mama, I try to listen to God, but I actually don’t hear anything.” At the time, I think my tired response was something halfhearted like, “Yeah, that’s the way it feels sometimes, huh?” Tonight, I’ll have a different message for him - keep listening.

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