“…and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” – John 10:4
Hearing The Name
When I was a kid, my friends and I played in the neighborhood. We would spend summer days playing football in the street, playing basketball in someone’s yard, riding bikes and playing cops and robbers, or just walking up and down the street talking about sports, girls, and what we just knew we were going to do when we grew up.Our street came with built-in curfew alarms: the street lights. When the street lights came on, most of us knew it was time to go home. From time to time, someone’s mother would stick her head out the door and yell her child’s name to tell him to come home. Aside from the fact that the mother used her son’s name, we all knew our mother’s voice well and went running at the sound of the first syllable she uttered.
I used to have a dog named Roscoe. When I left home to finish college, he went to live with my cousin. Years later I visited her. Roscoe was outside. He was surly to most everyone, but when I stepped out and called his name, he came running, ears back and tail wagging. After all this time, he knew my voice.
Today I am a parent of two 13-year-olds. I used to take them to the playground on warm days and watch them play with each other and new friends they make instantaneously (how is it we lose that ability at adulthood?). I play with them, or I may strike up a conversation with other parents, or bury my nose in a book, taking occasional glances to make sure everything is okay.
Inevitably, one of two things would happen. Either some child will yell, “Daddy!” or a child will cry because of some injury, either real or perceived, physical or emotional. And like magic, parents know the sound of their own child and can’t merely distinguish it from other children of similar age and gender, but know what the crying is about before the child even offers an explanation. “Oh, that’s a fall down cry.” “Uh oh, someone’s not sharing with her.”
As disciples of Christ, we know the sound of our Savior’s voice. That is not to say that other voices simply don’t exist. They do. Far too often, we not only hear those other voices, but we respond to them and do their bidding instead of the bidding of our Lord. But we know His voice, and our hearts are attuned to it such that we respond, in some way, at the sound of the first syllable He utters. We might respond positively or negatively, but we respond.
Time Spent Matters – Hearing The Savior
Knowing the sound of my children’s voices might seem innate, but I don’t think it is. It comes from spending long hours with them, tending to their needs, and being as fully present and engaged with them as I can possibly be. Similarly, knowing and responding to God’s voice comes from spending long hours with Him, reading His word daily, praying and not just asking, but listening, being fully present and engaged. When we do this, it does not completely drown out the other voices in our world. Those voices will always be there, calling to us, tempting us, and trying their best to influence us.
Hearing the Savior isn’t always so simple. But it is the voice of the Good Shepherd that should be the one to which we immediately respond. For it is He that has our best interests in mind. It is He who would protect us from the wolves that seek only to devour us. It is the Good Shepherd who has proven time and again that He will do exactly what He promised.
Author: Tony Penny