In spite of the physical shortcomings, the emotional health, the socio-economic status, the age, the depth of spiritual maturity, and even the wavering strength of the individual, God will have His way. There is no reason or what we might consider as a barrier to Him who will see completion of His design. He is relentless and patient. He knew angry Jonah, stuttering Moses, laughing Sarah, and young Samuel. He knew Mary. He knew them even when they were knit in their mothers’ wombs. His fierce intention to complete His work and His awareness of who He chose to complete that work is a testament to His perfect plan.
When Eli was old and “his eyes [had] begun to dim,” God spoke to Samuel from the darkness. Eli spent his life in service to God, leading a people who were not always obedient to the Lord’s law and favor. Yet Eli was faithful to God. In his faithfulness he raised the boy Samuel; Samuel knew the movement of the temple with people and activities. He watched and listened, and he knew God worked and moved in the temple. When God spoke to young Samuel, the boy returned to his father, his teacher. He responded to Eli in obedience and trust. He was willing and ready to do what Eli needed.
The trust of Samuel and his obedience is what resonates with me for the process of discernment. While I am certain I am hearing God’s voice and sure of His movement within me, I am grateful for the “Eli” of the process: my priest, my spiritual director, the leadership the Commission of Ministry, the Canon, the bishop. I must believe that they are intentional in their direction, encouraging despite my potential fears, and faithful in their own walk of faith and in their prayers. Eli was a man of God, and so I must also believe that the leadership in this process are men and women of God. Like Samuel, I must listen and watch and respond to God’s voice and movement. God knew me even as I was so young. The path of my life has led to these moments now. It is in this time that I am to be faithful to the leadership and counsel of those before me. I, like Samuel, want to be obedient to and pray for those people who are in positions of direction over me.