We’ve been studying through 1 Samuel these past few weeks. Israel was without true spiritual leaders. Eli and his sons were in charge of the spiritual leadership of the country and yet, there was rampant abuse, physical, emotional, possibly sexual abuse — all in the name of power and authority of those who “cared” for the Temple. Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord (1 Samuel 2:12 NIV).
Enter Samuel. A young boy brought to the temple by his mother, Hannah, who entrusted him to God and to Eli after answered prayer (See 1 Samuel). Samuel knew of the Authority of Heaven. He sought to honor Eli and ultimately, honor God.
Eli was met by a prophet who warned that he and his sons, his lineage, would die (2 Samuel 27-36). Eli knew it was true, but he did nothing in response, he just accepted his fate (1 Samuel 3:18).
He accepted it. somewhere in Eli’s service to the LORD he grew weary. Or maybe overwhelmed. Whatever happened, he stopped living fully for the LORD. He did not rebuke his sons when they were young, when they were dishonoring to God and His Temple. Over the years, Eli’s weariness grew and it became apathy. Yes, he still loved God, knew He was good and true. But, Eli quit taking the next step which was to act on the love he felt for God.
His love started to fade. Eventually, he grew old, blind, and large. Old age is natural. His loss of eyesight was more than a medical condition, it was spiritual. He lost the vision of serving God. He grew fat on the ill-gotten gains from his sons’ extortion of those who brought their offerings to the temple. He did not stand for God, but instead sat, as one defeated, allowing whatever would happen to happen (1 Samuel 4:12-18).
He faded away.
And so it is with all of us. We grow weary in our daily battles for a better marriage, a better relationship with our children, better experiences on the job. We start showing up to each event, each relationship-but we don’t engage. We ride the past experiences and act like they are current experiences and eventually, even the past experiences are worn thin.
When we fade in our devotion we allow space for distraction, for alternatives to fill the emptiness. It happens every day. We just don’t catch it at first. Suddenly a husband leaves his wife, a wife leaves her children. Except it is not suddenly. It is the slow fade. We don’t see the tendrils of apathy growing when they are small, but suddenly, we are caught up and tied up, unable to move- except to fall- and fall we all do.
First Samuel 4 ends with prophetic words indeed, She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel… (1 Samuel 4:22 NIV).
What would that broken marriage look like if the husband turned to his wife and admitted his feelings of disconnect? What if the wife turned to her husband and admitted she was overwhelmed in the day-to-day activities of staying at home? What would it look like if we woke up and realized our struggles and called out for help instead of listlessly drifting away?
Oh Heavenly Father, may our hearts not experience the departure described in 1 Samuel 4:22. May we live a life as described in Ephesians 5:14, “This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” May we rise and shine for You– not listless, without a rudder or direction, but fully engaged. Fully devoted, living out-loud the life You died to give us. Restore our marriages, restore our relationships with our children. Restore us, revive us, re-ignite us, Lord Jesus. May we not fade away, but instead seek to engage daily. Father, we need You. Hear our cries…