February 13 I Tuesday
“When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.” —John 10:4
My wife, Hilary, once encountered a shepherd taking care of some sheep while on a day retreat in the Judean desert. She was surprised when the shepherd did not stop to retrieve a sheep that had wandered off. This seemed to go against everything the biblical metaphor of Jesus as our Good Shepherd stood for. Sheep can be very wilful and tend to wander off, meandering all over the place. They get stuck on the cleft of a rock, as this one did, or push through fences or get caught in thorns and thistles. This particular sheep was safely brought back into its fold.
When the shepherd finds a sheep that keeps wandering off, he will drape it over his shoulders, carrying it with him for days and even weeks at a time. The sheep then becomes comfortably familiar with the shepherd’s voice and scent. A bond is formed for the sheep in which it feels protected, warm and secure. When the time comes, the shepherd places it back in the flock, and it does not wander off again, but stays near to the voice of its shepherd.
How often are we like willful sheep wandering off? Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.” Sometimes we get stuck in the thistles and pierced by the thorns before we find ourselves trapped on the cleft of a rock. Especially in times of trouble, different voices speak to us, but if we do not know Jesus, we will tend to listen to the voice of fear and doubt. Amidst all the tugging in our minds, pulling us this way and that, whose voice do we want to hear?
When Jesus says, “I know my sheep and my sheep know me,” how do we come to know Him? How do we recognize His voice? We come to know Jesus in the same way we come to know anyone—through familiarity.
By nurturing a relationship with Jesus, meditating on His Word and intimate communion with Him, we will come to know Him and grow familiar with His voice.
Though we may step out of the will of God, we never step out of His sight. Jesus will pursue us. Isaiah 40:11 says of Him, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart…” To know Jesus is to know His heart and it follows we will hear His voice. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who does not cast blame, condemn or judge, but rescues us from the cleft of the rock and brings us back into His fold.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for the times I have wandered away from You. Grant me ears to hear and an obedient heart so that my life stays on track with Your will. Thank You, God.