1 Samuel 3:1-5
Piñatas were a mainstay at our childhood birthday parties. As we grew older and stronger, we had to spin blindfolded in a circle, one for each year of our age. Once we finished our spinning, we were unleashed to take our whacks at the paper-mâché animal. Still blindfolded, we would always swing and miss, not knowing in which direction we were stumbling. In the end, we had to listen for our friends’ voices in order to get our bearings.
The scene between Samuel, the Voice, and Eli is also disorienting, both to their physical senses and to their spiritual sensibilities. It is late in the night, and Eli’s eyesight is similarly dim (v. 2). From another room, Samuel hears a Voice calling out his name. The entire scene plays out in near darkness, repeating itself several times as if the author is spinning the characters around blindfolded, trying to offer us enlightenment from different angles.
Such is the case in revealing their spiritual circumstances, too. It was rare to receive a vision from God in those days (v. 1). Eli’s dimming vision is both a physical malady and also a metaphor of his spiritual atrophy. Even still, the lamp of God had not yet gone out (v. 3), which signals to us both the time of night and the flickering hope that God had not abandoned them.
When challenging times come our way, finding our bearings can be difficult. When we feel overwhelmed or afraid, discerning God’s presence in those moments can be hard. Yet even in our disorienting hardships, this story reminds us that God is right there. God is awake at the wheel, bright-eyed and watching over us.
When you start to feel overwhelmed by the circumstances all around you, remember that God’s Spirit is within you.
Spirit, remind us of your persistent presence with us, even in the dizzying moments of our hectic lives. Amen.