A familiar story with an unexpected twist…

I stare into my coffee cup willing inspiration to waft from the steam. Sometimes teaching a class of ten year olds who have been raised in the church can feel far more daunting than teaching a group of kids who have never even heard the Gospel story.

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I stare at my open Bible as I take a sip of my favorite dark roast blend. The kids have heard this all before: Hannah prays for a son, God hears her prayer and gives her Samuel, then God calls young Samuel and makes him a prophet. It’s a fascinating story full of glorious truth and powerful lessons, and yet the last thing these kids need is more head knowledge. What they need is application—what they need is heart engagement.

I wrap my hands around my favorite mug, and breathe in deeply. God, show me how to reach these kids. Show me something different in this story. Show me…

Ding.

My phone alerts me to a text.

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Without conscience thought I grab the device and begin my reply. My reply leads me to my calendar. An email dings. Another reply, followed by a quick Google search. Oh! Did anyone like the photo I posted last night? Facebook informs me yes, a few did.

I raise my mug to my lips and take another sip, only to spit the offending beverage out of my mouth. When did my coffee get cold??

What was I doing? Oh right, planning the lesson…

My eyes return to the text:

“The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD…Then the LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times…Samuel answered….Speak, for your servant is listening.”

I read the familiar text, but yet, what I see in my head is an unfamiliar and distressing image:

There Samuel lies in the dim light of the temple, snuggled on his side in the quiet holy place, with an iPhone in his hand.

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The image is jarring in it’s ridiculousness for obviously Samuel’s young face would not have been illuminated by a screen, and yet the image grips my heart and soul with a barrage of what-ifs.

What if Samuel had been scrolling through social media that night?
Or captivated by a good book?
Or binge watching Netflix?

What if he had been so distracted that night that he had missed God’s call?

My heart sinks within my chest as awareness mingles with guilt.

Oh Lord,” my soul cries out.

How many times have I missed your voice?

How many times has the glow of my screen distracted me from the glow of your presence?

How many times have you stood by my bed and called out my name, only to have me turn my back to you as I scroll through my newsfeed?

I lower my head. I confess. I repent. I beg for divine help to stand strong against the slave-master of distraction.

My gaze falls back on the lesson I am soon to teach. And I am suddenly so grateful for a familiar lesson—a familiar lesson with a twist. A familiar lesson that I pray will find its way into the hearts of a group of ten year olds, and stay with me forever.

Especially tonight as I choose to set my phone aside and simply listen for His voice…

Much love,
Jen

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