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(Part 46)


January 17, 2012
Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

We all have been called and chosen by God to be His instrument for some purpose. On our response depends how God’s will is done for the life of the world.

Looking at today’s reading, we see a number of aspects that keep us from responding to God’s call.

First is living in the past. God said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve for Saul, whom I have rejected as king of Israel?” (1 Sm 16:1a). Long after God has moved on, we are still stuck in the past. This could be manifest in different ways.

  • Reliving glory days and unable to handle challenging times that have in effect “changed the game.”
  • Nursing a wound inflicted by a brother and unable to accept that person as a needed co-worker.
  • Being comfortable in the way we have been doing things, and unable to appreciate new ways, especially radical “out-of-the-box” ideas.

Second is fear. Samuel answered God, “How can I go? Saul will hear of it and kill me.” (1 Sm 16:2). We can be paralyzed by fear of what we already project to happen. “When he entered Bethlehem, the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and inquired, ‘Is your visit peaceful, O seer?’” (1 Sm 16:4b). We can be paralyzed by fear of the unknown.

  • Looking at all the human reasons why something cannot be done, rather than looking at how God seems to be acting in a particular situation. Remember: our ways and our thoughts are not God’s ways and thoughts.
  • Being afraid of how responding to God might affect our personal situation, such as finances, position, etc. Remember: we are called to deny selves and give our all, to the point of self-sacrificial giving of our very lives. At the same time, God always provides.
  • Being protective of what we already have or built up through the years, which might be “threatened” by new ways. Remember: God makes all things new, and our part is to empty ourselves so God can fill us with whatever He wants.

Third is looking at the superficial and missing the essential. Samuel “looked at Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is here before him.’ But the Lord said to Samuel: ‘Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.’” (1 Sm 16:6-7).

  • Having as criteria for leadership such things as lofty stature, handsome appearance, facility in speech, social status, financial standing, and the like.
  • Allowing living in the past or fear to dictate one’s choices rather than discerning God’s will (for a new direction) with an open mind and a pure heart.
  • The tragedy of looking to one’s own desires rather than what will please God, which often requires personal sacrifices and dying to self.

How should we respond to God, who calls us, chooses us, and sends us forth to do His will? “Samuel did as the Lord had commanded him.” (1 Sm 16:4a). What do we do? We obey! We do not look to our personal preferences, our comfort zones, or own human vision for the future. We do not allow fear or uncertainty or potential radical overturning of our lives to hinder us. We do not cling to the past but look expectantly, and hopefully excitedly, to the future.

Now of course the big question is, what does God want of us? What is He telling us to do? That is where true discernment comes in, and that is not an easy thing. But even in discernment, the very aspects spoken of above are what would form the right foundation for being able to hear God clearly.

As we begin to hear God clearly (discernment is a continuing process), we present ourselves before God. “Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.” (1 Sm 16:12a). We do not remain in our own world, living in the past or being fearful. Rather, we open ourselves up to what God wants to do. We stand in His presence, ready to accept whatever He tells us.

What then happens when we do what God wants done? I just love how the Bible describes the anointing of David.

“The Lord said, ‘There--anoint him, for this is he!’” (1 Sm 16:12c). I look at a picture of God excited (forgive my picturing God in human terms). Remember: God has His eternal plan, and you are part of it! God wants to implement His plan, but patiently waits on us to see it, to accept it, and to present ourselves ready to implement it. God is excited when now we are there before Him, awaiting our marching orders. Now our destiny can be fulfilled. Now we can be the persons God wants us to be. Now God can accomplish His will.

There is more. When Samuel anointed David with oil, “the spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.” (1 Sm 16:13). There was the Holy Spirit too, eagerly awaiting the instrument that He would use according to God’s purpose. When the instrument was there, the Holy Spirit did not just come in, He rushed in! I see (once again forgive me for picturing God through human eyes) the jockeys on their steeds awaiting the gun to rush off and begin the race. Even more mundane (forgive me), I see the shoppers awaiting the opening of Macy’s store for the annual big sale, and rushing in like madmen. When we present ourselves before God ready to do His will, the Spirit immediately rushes in and fills us.

Permit me one more vision. God waits patiently. So do the angels and saints in heaven with Him. They know what God wants to do. They themselves have proven to be good and faithful servants. Now they await with bated breath. When we give our yes, they whoop it up and dance for joy with abandon. This is what happened when Mary gave her yes. It will happen for us too.

Destined by God. Chosen by God. Empowered by God.

What else are we waiting for? God says to us, “be on your way” (1 Sm 16:1c).

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