At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD. 1 Sam 3
Rising very early before dawn,
It is not too late to make New Year's resolutions. I asked a therapist once how we actually change. He responded, "We decide that we can be different when we get tired of not being different." The motivation to change has to come out of some interior reflection, some inner desire. And, often this desire comes from being ready for something different because I'm tired of the way I am.
One of the biggest changes in Samuel's life was to recognize that the Lord spoke to him. For Samuel that meant several things that required change. Samuel had to now become a listener. And, once he heard the Lord's words to him, he needed to obey what he heard.
One of the great resolutions we can make is to listen to the Lord more attentively and to obey what we hear. For most of us, this will take some real change. It will take some "tuning in," much like finding a station on a radio. Once we practice listening to the Lord, his Word to us comes in "loud and clear." Then the challenge is to obey what we hear. Each of us can begin this new year asking, "What could it be that the Lord is trying to say to me that I'm just not listening to?" Or, we can ask, "How could I slow down and get myself in a place where I'll be able to figure out what the Lord is saying to me?" Perhaps we'll ask, "What is my head full of right now (arguments, conflicts, anxiety, fantasies, anger, fear)?" Letting go of these might allow me to hear what the Lord is saying to me. If his message to me is "Peace, I just want to you to live with more peace and to know my love. Then, I can call you to love others and bring my peace to them." I can't hear it if my head is pre-occupied with all kinds of other stuff.
Jesus is beginning his public ministry, as Mark presents it to us these days. Just 35 verses into the gospel of Mark, Jesus goes off to pray alone. Everything was moving quite fast for him. He is baptized by John. The heavens open and he is confirmed by the Father. He is led by the Spirit to the desert where he is tempted but survives. He calls his first disciples. He confronts and drives out an unclean spirit. He cures Simon Peter's mother-in-law and all the people start to bring their sick to him. He just had to stop and reflect.
We can only imagine what Jesus talked with his Father about. How did he thank him for the experience of the baptism? How did he "unpack" the experience of being tempted by Satan, so boldly, so blatantly? How did he tell the Father what it was like to cure Simon's mother-in-law, and to see her get up and serve them? Did he tell the Father that he learned from her that the gift of healing was to allow us to be free to serve? It seems at the very least, he had a clearer sense of his mission and what he was called to do, after this time of prayer with the Father.
If we have been trying to live a life of integrity and self-sacrificing love without taking time to stop and pray, this is the time to make a new resolution to give ourselves that time. Without time to step back and reflect upon our experiences and what they have meant, and what our Lord might be revealing to us through them, we are like pilots flying without radar in dense fog. Even though we are moving at 500 miles per hour, we can't see where we are going and we are likely heading for a crash landing. With little pauses throughout our day, and periodic times of deeper reflection, we can give ourselves greater clarity and insight. And, gradually, God's desires will form in our hearts. This can seem like a big change to make in our busy lives. But, we might just do it this year because we are tired of flying blind so much.
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