The other day, I had a discussion with hurricaneamy, who has been struggling with some life decisions for quite some time. I learned something from the context of the discussion and wanted to post it with her permission because it was such a powerful experience for both of us.
She said to me that she had been having dreams about returning to school and that she felt that continuing to talk about them might be bothersome to me. We have talked about them often; and I've tried helping her sort through the dream content, weigh various school options, sort through her interests, etc. Still the dreams came, and still she felt that they meant something but she didn't know what. I said, "It sounds like it's really eating at you," and I remembered similar things in my own life that had been so bothersome.
I could hear in her voice that she was truly disturbed by all of this; and I felt at a loss for anything helpful to say to her. In my mind, I prayed about it--the last thing I wanted to do was communicate by my silence that I didn't care. I was suddenly impressed to talk to her about a particular Bible story. I started to tell her the story but got a strong urge to ask her to tell it instead. It occurred to me that she didn't need to hear the story. She had studied Bible extensively in college and was undoubtedly familiar with it. It would be helpful to dig it up and recite it, experience it personally. So I asked her, "What happened to Samuel and Eli?"
It took some moments to dig up that story; and when she did, she was not able to recite it because the impact was so deeply personal. Samuel was a child growing up in the temple, in the tutelage of the priest Eli. One night as he was falling asleep, he thought he heard Eli call his name; but Eli had not done so. The incident repeated itself a couple of times until Eli realized what was happening. He told Samuel to go back to bed; and the next time he heard the voice, he was to answer, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."
Sometimes when God is speaking to us, we do not know how to discern His voice. It may sound like a familiar thing from everyday life or even a disturbing dream. But when God tries to get our attention, listening always helps in the discerning process. What I learned from this experience is that sometimes the person needs to recite the story herself as an act of remembrance. Remembrance can be a powerful tool in opening the mind and heart to what the Spirit is doing.