The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and stood there, calling out as before: Samuel, Samuel! Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:8-10
I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I don’t like the Ohio State Buckeyes. I grew up in Champaign, Illinois and witnessed the unranked Buckeyes defeat my beloved, undefeated, number-one-ranked Illinois basketball team on the last game of the regular season on a last-minute three-pointer in 2005. Until just a few years ago, I lived my entire life in Illinois, and all but five years in the same house in Champaign. How did I end up here?
I frequently ask God, “where are You in this?” This is a question I ask in the midst of tragedy, political elections, tedious paperwork, and my relationships. I think it’s common for people of good faith to be on the lookout for God’s hand in many situations. However, I have found myself asking a different question lately:
“God, where am I?”
I chose where I was going to college in the same way many high schoolers do. I weighed my options and found what was best for the major I wanted to study: journalism. I made my way to Eastern Illinois University, in Charleston, IL, about 50 miles south of my hometown. As I progressed in college, I decided to enter into a year of service upon graduation in a Catholic Worker community that was starting up in that town. After that, I made my way to Dayton, OH to work toward a Master’s degree in theology, per the recommendation of one of my college professors. I then applied, interviewed for, and was offered a position to work in full-time ministry in Cincinnati because I liked the mission and spirit of my current workplace.
These are all ordinary, important decisions that people make. What’s extraordinary is where they take us. I didn’t set out to live and work in Ohio. When I was young, I didn’t envision myself embracing voluntary poverty in a Catholic community in a small university town. (It’s been asked, “what good has ever come from Charleston?”) But that is where God led me. And I am thankful for all of these opportunities and experiences of grace.
It may be easy to ask where God is. For me, I’ve found an amazing understanding of where God is by looking at where I am. When I look at the earth below my feet, I am amazed that I stand where I stand. I am awe-struck by the people that have, by the grace of God, brought me here. I have gotten here by trying to be attentive to the Holy Spirit, and by a large network of other people doing the same. I walk with gratitude on this journey.
Steve is a high school campus minister living in Cincinnati, Ohio. When he’s not busy hitting the Whip and Nae Nae, he can usually be found enjoying a cup of coffee or watching his favorite sports teams.