Updated: Jul 20, 2020
The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:1-10)
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
Last Saturday was a very important day for our family, for on that day my nephew Luke was commissioned as a Salvation Army Officer. The Salvation Army is often known for the wonderful works that it does, but it is primarily a church and its officers are the ordained ministers within the church. After two years of residential training at the William Booth College in London, Luke was commissioned and ordained while we all watched from our homes via live streaming the somewhat different than planned event. However, his training does not stop there; he now has a further period of 5 years of on the job training and development. As part of his journey to Commissioning, he signed a covenant which states that he has been ‘Called by God to proclaim the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as an officer of The Salvation Army’.
Luke’s calling, like Samuel’s, came at an early age. He knew as a young child that God was calling him to be a Salvation Army Officer. It was easy for some to dismiss Luke’s calling. Like Eli, some did not at first recognise that it was God calling him; after all he was only a child. Also, Luke is a fourth generation Salvation Army Officer. He has known incredible examples of those who are called to serve God in his parents and grandparents, so it was easy to think that this child did not know God calling him but was just following in the family footsteps.
Luke is now 26 years old; he finished school, he went to university, he has travelled the world, he has worked in many countries and in all this time he has never changed his mind about what he has been called to do. The bible verse from Isaiah 6:8 quoted above was chosen by Luke as his verse on his commissioning day.
We must never underestimate the importance of working with children and young people. They are the future of the church and they are never too young to be called by God. They need to have people like Eli in their lives, those who will recognise that it is God calling them. Children are not just the church of tomorrow, they are the church of today.
Father God, we thank you that you call children and young people to your service. We pray for Luke as he travels to Wallsend to take up his appointment as a Salvation Army Officer. May we always nurture and support our young people in their journeys of faith.
O God of Burning, Cleansing Flame, Send the fire! (William Booth) – recorded for Songs of Praise a couple of years ago at the William Booth College where Luke has just completed his residential training.