One Sunday recently, I was walking from my car to the church. It was a quiet morning, and I noticed a flight of birds taking to the air. As luck would have it, their flight path took them close to where I was walking.

There is nothing unusual about a flock of birds in flight, going from here to there, or simply flittering about as they often do. As they flew past I could hear the faint noise of their wings flapping, something I had never noticed before.

Later, when I had some time to think, it occurred to me that birds must make some sort of flapping noises when they fly. I also realized that if there is just one bird you have to be very close to hear it. Like many things, the more birds there are in a flock, the easier it is to hear them. It is frequently the same way with the Holy Spirit. We hear it best when we hear it in groups. But perhaps the most important thing is that you have to have some quiet and be willing to listen if you are to hear what’s happening around you.

Hearing God’s call is much like listening for the sound of a bird’s wings flapping. It is often a soft voice calling and at unexpected times. Perhaps that is why many times others hear the call and know it for what it is long before we ourselves hear it. God’s calling of Samuel is a good example.

1 Samuel 3:1-10 recounts the story. In it, God called to Samuel three times. Each time Samuel thought it was Eli calling him. Eventually, with Eli’s help, Samuel heard and responded to God’s call. Verses 8-10 finish the story as Samuel answers God’s call. “The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’ Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’”

In a world that tells us we are insignificant. it is hard to hear that quiet voice calling our name. Harder yet to believe that God, the creator of the universe, could be calling us personally and has a mission and a ministry for us. Encouraged by, and often directed by Satan, the world makes it hard for us to believe that we might be someone special.

Therefore, take some time to listen for God’s voice. Take some time to listen to God’s voice calling others around you. Take some time to remind them of the facts and help them realize that they are indeed someone special; they are the beloved child of God.

John R. Fowler. John is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Prosper.