As an infant, I was named Samuel after the Biblical prophet of the same name. Well, the romanized version of the name, at any rate. My mother chose to give me that name because, like the mother of the famous prophet, she had specifically prayed to God for a firstborn son and it had been granted to her. For much of my life, I never really felt any kinship with my namesake, the great leader of Israelites and counselor to kings.
After all, I certainly wasn’t leading a nation or advising rulers of any kind. I was just the really nerdy kid who didn’t care about school and didn’t care about having friends and still managed to do alright in school and have a few friends. The kid with a couple 1st place Science Fair trophies and a few 2nd place Karate trophies who liked to read anything he could get his hands on and play soccer or basketball at random hours of the night.
The moment in which God called me as clearly as He had called the prophet took me by surprise when I was 17 and finally discovering the joy in the world. I won’t say that I talked to God, because talking is such a pale shadow of the genuine communication that God can engage in. He shared fully in my existence, and I shared in what small portion of God’s existence that I could handle.
I don’t understand why people use drugs to try to have mystical experiences, because I would never want to lose the clarity of the experience of an encounter with the divine sans pharmaceutical aid and without the mindgames played by some cultish churches where they subject you to emotional overload and/or deprive you of sleep. Why would you want to dilute something that potent and beautiful?
Like the prophet, I did not completely understand what I was being called to when the call came to me. I was honored by the grace being given and keenly aware of my own unworthiness to receive such a gift, but I could not help but trust in His wisdom. My life went on at first with no apparent changes, but that encounter had begun a process that would change me and the course of my life irrevocably.
I started to love more deeply and began to share that love with family and friends, in small ways initially. Simply being considerate and compassionate can change things dramatically. Being more open to love can allow love into a situation that it couldn’t otherwise have had a part in. In about a year I had become a significantly happier and more wholesome person.
Over the years since that time, friends and family have come to me for counsel in far more situations that I ever expected. The management at work takes my opinion seriously and relies upon my abilities to help lead our center. I serve others as much as possible and they serve me in countless ways in return, though I do not ask it of them.
I’m beginning to understand that I am far more like the prophet than I ever would have believed. Maybe there is something in a name.