In the past, renting a movie involved physically leaving your home and going into a Blockbuster Video store. Before streaming or downloading services, one of my favorite VHS cassette rentals was the movie “The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend.” This film was based on the 8th-grade life of “Pistol” Pete Maravich, a young man with a burning desire to play basketball. He became legendary because of his unorthodox style of play consisting of no-look and behind-the-back passes. What stood out to me most about the film was Pete’s dedication and diligence towards the game. He’s what we would refer to as a “gym rat.” Morning, noon, and night, he was always practicing his skills. If he wasn’t in the gym, he was dribbling around town or while riding his bicycle. He would shoot hoops in the pouring rain or spin a basketball on his finger for an hour. His young life was dedicated to the sport.
I’ve always envisioned the boy Samuel as a “church rat.” His parents Elkanah and Hannah dedicated him to the Lord, even before his birth (1 Samuel 1:11, 1:28). As a boy, the Scriptures describe his work ethic repeatedly as “ministering to the Lord” (2:11, 2:18, 3:1). While living and working in the “house of the Lord,” Samuel grew in stature and in favor with the Lord and men (2:26). Jesus, similarly, was described this way in his youth (Luke 2:52). God also choose Samuel, during a time period when communication from God was scarce, to reveal Himself and transmit His message to Eli the priest concerning the judgment upon his house (1 Samuel 3:1-21). The Lord was certainly with young Samuel (3:19).
Most would not take kindly to being called a rat. But in this case, it represents someone who is fully devoted to a cause. Whenever the doors are open, they are present. Just as Pistol was always in the gym and Samuel was consistently ministering to the Lord, we can see a direct correlation between their commitment and success. Pistol Pete went on to have a stellar collegiate career and some professional success. Samuel, a Nazirite, held many positions in the Lord’s service including prophet, priest, and judge. We can learn much from Samuel’s example. Are we “continually devoting” ourselves (Acts 2:42) or are we habitually absent (Hebrews 10:25)? Will anyone have the pleasure of calling us “church rats?”