By Ezra Connection
“What do you see, Amos?” “A plumb line.” Amos 7:8
“What do you see, Amos?” “A basket of summer fruit.” Amos 8:2
Then I said, “Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth...What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see a rod of an almond tree.” Jeremiah 1:6, 11
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” I Kings 19:13.
As I pulled out a much-used Bible translation from past years, I read Amos 7. It’s odd sometimes how the simple rearrangement of words on a page can trigger a fresh response. When I read the question, “What do you see, Amos?” the name of the prophet started the next line down, and so jumped out at me.
Hearing someone called by name startled me. In the middle of a conversation, why was God addressing Amos by name? The Lord already had his attention.
My mind leaped back to our Grade 9 introduction to Latin, and the marvel of yet a sixth case ending that we had to learn for nouns—the Vocative Case. At first, we learned to use this case of address when approaching a king. O King, we bring you greetings! O King—with a comma in English, but the vocative in Latin. Either a comma before or after. A comma, to allow time for a bow of reverence.
Today, we use the vocative case when we call a friend to get her attention—Hi, Claire!—but in Amos, God was already in a conversation with Amos. Nor was the Lord using the name to offer obeisance. Instead, I began to imagine how God was putting his hand on Amos’s shoulder, helping him to focus. Quietly, the discussion changed from being audible to everyone, to being an intimate one-on-one whisper.
“Amos! Now I am talking to you alone. YOU are the one in my plans. I need you to see what I am showing YOU.”
I wonder if lately the Lord might have been asking me in a whisper, “What do you see, Claire?” I wonder if I have been listening. Do I notice what he is showing me, or see the unusual places where his Spirit is at work? Have I sensed a firm, but gentle, hand on my shoulder, trying to get my attention?
Oh Lord (comma), I bow in worship to acknowledge that YOU are my Lord. You chose to use Amos, who said that he merely worked on a farm, as a nipper of figs. Help me to really get your message when you choose to use me, too, your simple handmaiden, for your glory. Help me to listen for those special times when you call me by name. Amen.
“Tabitha, arise!” Acts 9:40