This week, we start a new series directed toward young people to help them find their purpose. I'll be writing with younger readers in mind, but I'm confident there will be lessons for both adults and children in each entry. I hope you'll share these with the young folks in your life. Then when we're through, there will be a book titled "Never Too Young" to help young people all over the world be young people of purpose.
Let's start our study of young people and children of purpose in the Bible with the story of Samuel. God spoke to Samuel when he was a child and told him what his life's work would be. Before we look at that, let's look at a bit of Samuel's family background to see if maybe you have something in common with him.
Samuel's mother's name was Hannah and she could not have children, which made her very sad. What did she do when she was sad? She prayed:
One time, after they had finished their meal in the house of the Lord at Shiloh, Hannah got up. She was deeply distressed, and she cried bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. Meanwhile, Eli the priest was sitting in his place by the door. Hannah made a solemn promise: “Lord Almighty, look at me, your servant! See my trouble and remember me! Don't forget me! If you give me a son, I promise that I will dedicate him to you for his whole life and that he will never have his hair cut" (1 Samuel 1:9-10 GNT).
We'll talk later about why she promised she would never cut Samuel's hair, but I want you to see that his mother gave and dedicated him to the Lord before he was born. Maybe your parents did the same thing.
God heard Hannah's prayer and Samuel was born. Hannah kept her promise and when the boy was young, maybe three or four years old, she took him to live with the man of God at that time whose name was Eli. Samuel stayed there without his mother so he could learn about God from Eli the priest. Then one night, even though Samuel was a young child, a voice spoke to him:
Before dawn, while the lamp was still burning, the Lord called Samuel. He answered, “Yes, sir!” and ran to Eli and said, “You called me, and here I am.” But Eli answered, “I didn't call you; go back to bed.” So Samuel went back to bed (1 Samuel 3:4-5).
This happened a few more times before Eli realized God was the one who was speaking to Samuel:
Then Eli realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy, so he said to him, “Go back to bed; and if he calls you again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed. The Lord came and stood there, and called as he had before, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak; your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:8-10).
Isn't that amazing? God was speaking to Samuel and He came to talk to him about His will for Samuel's life.
Maybe God is speaking to you about your life too. It could be that you have thoughts and ideas, maybe even a picture in your mind, of what your future will look like. I bet people tell you that you are good at certain things like building, singing, or helping. That could be God speaking to you through them to help you see the talents and gifts he has given you.
Or maybe you've heard a voice in your heart and didn't know who or what it was. If that's the case, I want you to do what Samuel did. I want you to say, "Speak, Lord, for your servant listens" and then listen even more closely to what you hear. God may be telling you what He wants you to do with your life.
Our lesson today is that God wants you to know His will for your life and He can begin speaking to you about it when you're young. Don't think, "I'm too young to know or do God's will." Instead, accept that God knows your name and has something for you to do that only you can do. Then begin to tell other people what it is that you are hearing, and then watch God help you do what it is that He showed or spoke to you, no matter how young you are.