When God called to Samuel the first time, the young man thought it was his elderly master Eli. Eli told Samuel to go back to bed. God called a second time that night, and again Samuel thought it was Eli. Once more, Eli told him to go back to bed. The third time Eli worked out what was happening. He told Samuel that if God called again he should say: “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.”
God did call and he told Samuel some things that were not good news for Eli’s family. Samuel informed his master. After that, quite a channel of communication grew up between the prophet and the Lord.
On the Internet we never know when God might call us. The Internet is a noisy place, full of funny kitten memes and social chat. Yet, as we all know, it is a great communication tool and source of information. It’s always possible to be surprised by something that supports us in our united calling to leave the world a better place than we found it.
No matter how old we might be, we can’t be confident that we will recognise God’s call when it comes. We all need an Eli to help us, sometimes.
I think Eli was a very wise man. At a time when visions were rare, he had the insight to recognise that God was talking to Samuel. It’s not easy for any of us to see when God is acting in another person’s life. Jealousy, prejudice, apathy, emotional projection or excessive enthusiasm can prevent us from seeing how things really are.
A lot of Christians still don’t use the Internet. So they really can’t be digital Elis to any digital Samuels. It’s a pity. It just means that those of us who are online will have to make an extra effort to help each other.