1 Samuel 3:1-9
3 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3 the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!”[a] and he said, “Here I am!”5 and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6 The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
An interesting thing happened to me not too long ago, I usually do not get home from work until after 2am, but then it is hard for me to just go right to bed, so I stay up a while, watch TV, play a video game, or sometimes even write one of these ‘reflections’. One night, not long after Christmas, after staying up too late playing on the PS3, I made my way up to bed, and just as I was settling down with a good book, my 19 year old daughter called out to me from her room: “Dad?” and when I answered, she said, “I just wanted to make sure you were home.”
This incident reminded me of when she was little, and would call out to me often after she had gone to bed, sometimes for water, sometimes for an extra blanket, or because she had a bad dream, but mostly just to make sure I was still there.
Sometimes the Lord calls to us in unexpected ways…like through our children.
Being a single father has given me a different view of what is most important in life, and has helped me to set better priorities. Because I am a single parent I have become less focused on my work, as my main priority has been raising my daughter; so I have turned down jobs that would have meant going on many business trips, or spending long hours at the office, and have missed out on some opportunities that could have proven very lucrative for me. Instead, I choose to work regular hours and avoid business travel, so I could spend more time with my child, playing with her, taking on trips, helping her with school work, and with many life issues, both trivial and serious.
Making the choice to focus on my daughter has made me a better person. Spending so much time playing with her when she was little opened up my imagination, while reading to her and making up our own stories together spurred me to do more writing myself. Helping her with school work was an opportunity to re-learn many things I had forgotten, and woke up my love of learning new things. Working through teenaged drama with her, and the more serious problems she faced because of it, has taught me a lot about being a parent (like how parenting does not magically end when our children turn 18), and it has also given me more compassion for my daughter, as well as for others who struggle with life on life’s terms. This compassion has given made me more understanding and forgiving of myself and others, for the mistakes that we make.
The fact that I had more time at home, allowed me to become more active in my community and in my church, and also gave me time to focus on build stronger relationships with the people around me, like my daughter, my family and my girlfriend; and it has also given me time to deal with some of my own personal issues, and get over past resentments, and this allowed me to be able to make peace with my ex-wife (something which has been a great help in raising my daughter).
Through it all I have heard the call of God, the call to focus on what really matters in life: the love we share with our family and friends, and the call to share the forgiveness and grace given to us through Christ. To follow this call to faith in action is to carry on the ministry of Christ, a ministry that we share with each other, as we are all on a journey of faith.
And it is this faith that I share with my daughter, because this is not all just one way, as by following the call of God to make parenting a priority in my life, I have also been able to learn much from my daughter. She has a remarkable way of looking at life, and separating what matters from what doesn’t. She has helped me to see what is truly important in life through different eyes, and with a fresh point of view. It is my daughter who was an inspiration for these ‘reflections’, as she was one of those who encouraged me to use the talent I have in order to do something new, to follow my heart and my faith instead of my wallet.
The Lord does sometimes call to us in unexpected ways!
Let us Pray
God, thank you for calling upon us to be parents, and for giving us the faith and the strength to face the many challenges of being a single parent. Thank you for the good people you have put in our lives, and for the path our lives have taken. Help us to continue in your ministry of sharing your love and grace with our children and with all those around us, grant us patience and peace, and help us to stay open to your will, and to always be listening for your voice calling out to guide us…even from unexpected places.