Identity Found in God
The Shepherd and the Sheep
~ The Shepherd
~ The Sheep
~ The Voice of the Shepherd
~ The Art of Listening
~ The Lost Sheep
~ The Path
~ Living as His Sheep
The Voice of the Shepherd
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:4
Are there certain voices in your life that evoke certain emotions, or take you back to certain events – good or bad? Are there ones that by merely hearing the voice, you can distinguish who it belongs to? Let’s take a phone call, for example. Your phone rings, (you know – the one that just rings – the one before cell phones that display the name and sometimes even the picture of the person calling). You answer hello, and anticipate who is on the other line. Sometimes it’s someone so familiar you recognize the voice after the first word spoken – your husband, child, mom, dad... Other times, the person begins by telling you their name, identifying themselves right away. Don’t you just love those times, though, when you answer, you don’t recognize the voice, and the caller doesn’t say who they are, but carries on the conversation as if you should know who it is! Sometimes you figure it out, but other times you hang up and still have no idea who you have just spoken with. Then there are the calls when even after the first few words, you are 100% sure it’s a stranger: AKA telemarketer. Asking for Victoria or Mrs. COON are dead giveaways they don’t even know my name!
Now let’s look into this a bit deeper. What makes a voice familiar to you? How do you know who’s on the other end? As I’m sure you’ve already concluded, those you spend time with, those you engage in conversations with, are the voices you recognize more quickly. What about those voices that sound familiar? The ones where you know you’ve heard the voice before, but can’t seem to pinpoint who it is? But the more you talk, it comes back and you recall the voice as a friend in the past, one you haven’t connected with in a while.
Let’s take another twist on voices. As you know well, there are many voices that surround us. Voices on tv, voices on social media, on the news, political voices, religious voices, voices that judge, put down or label, voices that supposedly identify perfection or success. Voices that conflict, voices that tempt or sway. Oh so many voices!
Whose voice matters. The voice that knows best. The voice of our Good Shepherd. In John 10:2-5, Jesus describes the purpose and impact and importance of the Shepherd’s voice. “The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
What an accurate scenario. As strangers approach the sheep, their voice isn’t recognizable as the one who cares for them, and so they run away. But, as the Shepherd speaks, calling them by name, it’s a voice they have learned they can safely follow. One that they have spent time with and have become familiar with.
Our Shepherd’s voice confidently leads the way. He knows your name; He knows my name. He calls us by name and leads us. Remember when Mary Magdalene found herself broken-hearted and weeping at the tomb of Jesus. She was in full blown grief over His death, but on top of that, someone had taken His body out of the tomb. She was a mess. This precious sheep was distraught. She just wanted to find her friend. She was in such a disarray that Jesus was standing right by her, but she wasn’t clear enough until…Her dear friend called her by name. “Mary…” Was it the tone of His voice and the way He said her name that brought her to realize it was Jesus standing right beside her. The Shepherd that she was so close to stood right beside her. There’s something comforting when the Good Shepherd calls His sheep by name. It’s the voice that brings guidance, protection, comfort and peace.
What are you doing to deepen the relationship you have with Jesus? Dig into His word, study His actions and spend time getting to know Him better. What voices need muted so that His voice rings more clearly? May you deepen and fine-tune the recognition of the voice of your Shepherd in your life.