Who Called My Name?
Someone called out my name while I was sleeping. It wasn’t my husband. Who was it?
Thank you for asking a question that many people have wondered about. Most of us have had that strange experience as well: we hear our name spoken out loud, but cannot pinpoint the source or owner of the voice. It may be a bit frightening, especially when it happens at night. Why does it happen? We must first look in the Bible, our most reliable reference book. We find one reason plainly explained in the Old Testament:
“Meanwhile little Samuel was helping the Lord by assisting Eli. Messages from the Lord were very rare in those days, but one night after Eli had gone to bed (he was almost blind with age by now), and Samuel was sleeping in the Temple near the Ark, the Lord called out, “Samuel! Samuel!”
“Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” He jumped up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. What do you want?” he asked.
“I didn’t call you,” Eli said. “Go on back to bed.” So he did. Then the Lord called again, “Samuel!” And again Samuel jumped up and ran to Eli.
“Yes?” he asked. “What do you need?”
“No, I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go on back to bed.” (Samuel had never had a message from Jehovah before.) So now the Lord called the third time, and once more Samuel jumped up and ran to Eli.
“Yes?” he asked. “What do you need?”
Then Eli realized it was the Lord who had spoken to the child. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if he calls again, say, ‘Yes, Lord, I’m listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”
And Samuel replied, “Yes, I’m listening,”(1 Samuel 3:1-10, TLB.)
In this tender segment of Scripture regarding the great prophet Samuel, we find him in training as a young child. His mother has dedicated him to the temple to become a priest. (God was also training him to serve as one of Israel’s chief prophetic voices inside the Kingdoms of Saul and David.) Late one night, Samuel hears his name in the dark. He runs to the most obvious source; his mentor, Eli the priest. Back and forth the child runs, waking his elder three times before the truth is revealed: God himself is speaking Samuel’s name.
This scenario is the most common reason we may hear our names called out in the atmosphere—God is requesting our attention. Most often the Lord has a message; a prophecy about our destiny or even a warning about our future. We may remember Moses and the burning bush, which is another stellar example. In both cases, Samuel and Moses, God spoke out of heaven to two individuals about their destiny in the world. In both cases, the destinies of these men would make history.
Yet God speaks to regular people, too. As a pastor, I notice that when we talk to God a lot he more readily speaks to us in kind. Please understand, I am not saying God plays favorites or engages in a tit-for-tat relationship with people. No, God is not impressed with brown-nosers or patronizing hypocrites. He is impressed with people who genuinely cannot get through a day without communicating with their Lord. Those who humbly walk with him through life, living daily in search of God’s thoughts and opinions are the ones who have tuned their ears to hear. And they do.
Other voices in the atmosphere around us are capable of speaking as well. An argument could be made that our choice of environment determines what kinds of voices are speaking. Do we insist on the propagandized, background noise of the television all day? Do we listen to sexualized or violent music hour by hour? Demons dwell in permanent darkness and are attracted to places where they feel comfortable. Once there, they readily take liberties to engage the people who’ve drawn them. Countless biblical passages record their attempts at conversation with Jesus, so we know they speak. (Jesus silenced them, cast them out and would not engage.)
When you hear your name in the night, I would suggest you answer this, “Jesus, I am listening.” If demons are speaking to you, they will flee from the name of the Lord. If God (or an angel) has a message, you have asked to receive it.
Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Send your inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030. For more information and booking, please visit: www.adriennewgreene.com