How do we know? How will we know? Is it God calling or just my inner voice? Maybe it isn’t God at all but a deceiver trying to lead me off track? Sometimes, it seems impossible to figure out what God wants even when we remember to pray and listen. What do we do?

Samuel was in just such a circumstance. He was living at the temple of the Lord (really the tabernacle as the temple had not yet been constructed) as a young boy of maybe 12 years old. Samuel heard a call and needed to figure out who it was from. Samuel went to his mentor and spiritual advisor to get help, but Eli offered very little in the way of clarity. What he did offer serves as a model for us today.

Listen, the first thing Samuel did was listen. This may seem straight forward but our minds are so cluttered and our schedules so full we have little need or space to listen to God. If we want to know God’s will for our lives we need to make time to listen for His voice.

Determine its authenticity. Samuel didn’t just start responding or doing what he already thought in his mind. Samuel’s response was “Speak LORD.” This may seem over bearing, but Satan is known as the great deceiver. If Eve or Adam had asked for this clarity of the serpent, the results would have been very different, for they would have known they were listening to the wrong voice.

Trust how He leads. If we listen for His voice and faithfully respond seeking the Lord’s will, then we must have faith to follow where He leads. Samuel was given some difficult information about his mentor and spiritual leader, Eli. We would all understand if Samuel didn’t want to share that information. But, Samuel and Eli knew they needed to hear whatever the Lord had to say, even if they didn’t like it.

Know God works in ways we don’t always understand. After Samuel and Eli’s faithful listening and responding, Eli’s sons died, the Ark of God was captured and Eli broke his neck falling out of a chair and died. In my human mind, this does not seem like the work of God and I would be tempted to think we had gotten something wrong along the way. Instead, God calls us to remain steadfast, to remember we are in warfare against the Devil and that along the way the curse of sin and death will be made known, but the victory belongs to the Lord.

In God’s divine wisdom and mercy, the Godless future was replaced by faithful leadership. The Ark was regained and both the people of God (Israelites) and the enemies of God’s people (Philistines) grew to believe in the power of the one true God.

God does not need evil to show His goodness, but humanities greatest sin is not recognizing evil in all its subtleties. We give evil its power when we ignore God’s calling, fail to determine its authenticity and turn away from God for our own idols. But, God is faithful and just and continues to call out to us and giving us His Spirit and wisdom to follow Him.