Ah, such true words by J.I. Packer! This sentiment has really been hitting home with me lately. I have been concerned (preoccupied?) about my circumstances, I now realize that the Lord has been trying to get my attention for some time.
Silly me — I thought He was going to speak something into my life about how He plans to intervene in my life and move in a dramatic way, but nothing like that happened at all. Quite the opposite, really. I don’t doubt that He will intervene at some point, but resolving my situation (according to my timetable) wasn’t necessarily His most urgent priority.
The story that He brought to mind was the that of Samuel and Eli (check out the first few chapters of 1 Samuel to get the full picture). It didn’t seem to bother the Lord in the least that Samuel was a little boy, and that Eli was the grown-up and the official priest in the temple. No, as the story goes, the Lord kept calling out to Samuel, and eventually (with Eli’s help) he understood that God was trying to get his attention to tell him something. You would think that God would use the official “man of God” (Eli), but that is not how He chose to operate.
And the news that God gave Samuel wasn’t exactly the kind of information that you want to hear or share about anyone — especially not your guardian and mentor. Poor Samuel was in a tough spot! You can understand why he wanted to keep mum and say precious little about what he heard from the Lord. However, Eli pressed him for details, and Samuel revealed all that God placed in his heart about the matter. From what I can tell, God first began talking to Samuel at that point and never really stopped. The way I see it, what was true of Samuel is likely still true for us — God is speaking, and He wants us to seek Him, hear His voice, and then obey whatever direction He gives to us. This appears to be the main point of a surrendered life, no?