Faith | What do you do when you hear God’s call? Listen closely

Who can reasonably deny our culture’s fast slide into darkness?

Just look around. Bookstores are flush with topics on the occult and the paranormal. Movies, TV, and video games reel with themes of death, sadism and destruction.

Harmless tales? Isn’t this just escapist entertainment? You tell me, as you honestly assess the spiritual condition of our country in 2024.

We need to hear the voice of the Lord. Again. As individuals, and as a nation.

You don’t have to scale a mountain or kneel is some vast cathedral to hear his voice. You can actually hear him even in the shadowy, confined places of life.

I’ve been in some very dark and distant corners of this world — places I would not willingly (apart from the call of Christ) visit again.

But darkness can be close at hand as well.

I may sense it in a foreign country, or when my health takes a turn — or perhaps in the wee hours of the night when I grapple with worry or regret. But even in those moments I’ve got some good company. The apostle Paul himself admitted to wrestling with “sleepless nights”—or “watchings,” as the King James Version renders it (2 Corinthians 6:5).

I will admit that it’s not easy hearing the voice of the Lord Jesus when you’re out there in the dark places. But that’s exactly when you need his voice the most. And that’s when you need to listen for him with your whole being.

I think of the young lad Samuel in the early days of Israel, living in the Lord’s meeting tent with Eli, the compromised elderly priest. The first four chapters of 1 Samuel describe some desperate times for God’s people — including a defeated national army, a fractured nation and a corrupt priesthood.

In 1 Samuel 2:18 (Message), we read: “In the midst of all this, Samuel, a boy dressed in a priestly linen tunic, served God.”

The nation had slipped into darkness. The media of the day must have brimmed with bad news and cynical commentary. The government was imploding, church wasn’t fun, and the military suffered from heavy losses and defeat.

The weakened spiritual, political, and cultural condition left the nation with what could be called a fractured destiny. Everything was going against them because of their choices.

Everything except Samuel.

In the middle of the darkness, at the very heart of the national decay, the Holy Spirit gives us revelation from the Scriptures that highlights a clear-eyed young boy dressed in a priestly linen tunic, serving the Lord.

This was no glib professional, powerhouse influencer, or televangelist celebrity. It was just a young boy, dedicated to the Lord and serving him “in the midst of all this.”

In his book, “Spiritual Warfare,” Dr. Karl Payne writes, “As Christians, our lives represent houses (or lights) that should shine brightly in the night to contrast with the darkness surrounding us (Philippians 2:14-15). We are supposed to provide the good news ... for those lost in the night, looking for help.”

What do you do when you hear God’s call in the dark places of life?

You serve and worship him. As best you can. With his help and in his strength.

Serve God with what he has gifted you, and keep serving him in the midst of all of it, in your part of the vineyard or wherever he places or plants you.

Worship him with fervency, even if your body is tired, your spirit is worn, you feel like giving up and you don’t want to go around Jericho’s wall one more time.

The boy Samuel heard God’s voice in the night, when all was quiet and the lights burned low in the sanctuary. It may have been a special message just for him, describing the stiff winds of change about to blow across Israel.

Then again, maybe he was the only one listening.

Micah Smith
Micah Smith

Rev. Micah Smith is president and founder of Global Gateway Network with offices in Richland. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 4253 W. 24th Ave., Kennewick, WA 99338. Or email