Jesus said: “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John10:1-5)
I don’t think it is too much of a stress to say that many people have wandered so far away from God that they can’t pick out God’s voice among the many other clamoring for attention. Many of us have allowed the cares, worries, and the busyness of life to make us run off in directions that lead us away from God. We need stop, listen for God’s voice and follow our Good Shepherd.
There is a story about a father and a son traveling together to a distant city. There were no maps and the journey was long and rough and fraught with dangers. Only the wisdom and experience of the father would get them to their destination.
Along the way, the boy grew curious. He wanted to know what was on the other side of the forest, beyond the distant ridge they were walking. So, he asked his father if he could go and investigate and his father said yes.
“But Father, how will I know whether I have wandered too far from you? What will keep me from getting lost?”
“Every few minutes,” the father said, “I will call your name and wait for you to answer. Listen for my voice, my son. When you can no longer hear me, you will know that you have gone too far. Then, turn around and return to the place where you last heard my voice.”
A profound thing happened once to the prophet Elijah, that speaks to this subject. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah finds himself alone in a mountain cave. He feels alone and depressed. He wants to quite the ministry.
The Lord comes to Elijah and says, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah explains what he is feeling. Then God says to him, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” The Scripture then says: "Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces... but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
Then it says: “When Elijah heard that (when he heard the perfect silence), he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave (for he knew he would God there in the silence).
In your busy, loud, world – slow down! Make time for silence with God, and there, you too, will meet the Good Shepherd. Only then, will we know where to walk and not be led astray by the voices of the false shepherds. We need to develop an intimate relationship with Jesus, so we will always be able to discern his voice from all the others clamoring for our attention.
One day a New Yorker was leading his friend, a farmer from Wisconsin, down the busy streets. Right in the center of Manhattan, the farmer seized his friends arm and whispered, "Wait. I hear a cricket."
His friend said, "Come on! A cricket?"
"No, seriously, I do."
"That's impossible! You can't hear a cricket!" the friend said, "Cars are going by. Horns honking'. Both sides of the street filled with people. Cash registers clanging away. Subways roaring beneath us. You can't possibly hear a cricket!"
The farmer insisted he could. Slowly he walked down the block, looked around, cocked his head to one side. Then went over to a large cement planter. There he smiled, reached in and gently came out with a cricket.
His friend marveled at the man being able to do this. “How in the world could it be that you heard a cricket in the middle of downtown New York?”
The farmer replied, “It’s simple really. It all depends on what you're listening to. Let me show you.” He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of change, “Watch,” he said. He held the coins waist high and dropped them to the sidewalk. In a matter of seconds dozens of people looked in the direction of the two men. “See, it all depends on what you’re listening for.”
All our actions depend upon who we are listening too. That’s why it’s essential that we hear God. For as Jesus says in the Scripture: He is the good Shepherd. He will lead us in ways that are good and safe. “The other voices,” he warns, “are false shepherds” and there way leads only to death and destruction.
Hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd is THAT important.
~ God bless, Dan