1 Samuel 3:6-7

When it comes to fetal and infant development, research indicates that children recognize their mother’s voice at an exceptionally early age. Some studies record responses to a mother’s voice from the womb. Within their first few weeks after birth, infants begin recognizing familiar faces and voices. It takes some time, developmentally and experientially, however, for babies to learn to recognize other people beyond their closest caretakers.

Today’s Scripture indicates a gap in recognition. This is not Samuel’s fault; he is just a boy. But this does implicate Eli, the priest of God. In the previous chapter, Eli failed to teach his own children the ways of God, and here he is making the same mistake with Samuel, his adopted child. Samuel does not yet know the Lord, though he has been raised in the Lord’s house and works there. Some of us didn’t grow up in church or have much understanding about God. God was the distant aunt we didn’t meet until fifth grade or college or later. Others of us who were raised in the church went through those doors every time they opened. Yet if we’re honest with ourselves, God might still seem as unfamiliar as the second language our mothers never taught us.

This side of eternity, we will never know God fully. That doesn’t mean we can’t become more familiar. Maybe we have honed a spiritual sense or two, but like growing infants, we have other spiritual senses still waiting to be developed. Instead of feeling shame about this, we can see it as God’s infinite grace. We may be accustomed to “hearing” God’s voice in certain ways, but there are myriad other spiritual practices that will help us see or touch or taste or even smell God’s presence in our world.


What spiritual practices could you try that might reveal God’s presence to you in a new way?


God, teach us new ways to discover your abiding presence. Amen.

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