“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:1-5) In a day and time where voices ring out day and night, Jesus declares to us that HIS sheep know His voice above all others. Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, text messages, emojis all vie for my attention daily. My emails constantly pile up and cause me anxiety. Daily I feel that I am balancing on a tight rope of sorts to get through everything.
Truly Henri Nouwen stated truly:“Over the last few decades we have been inundated by a torrent of words. Wherever we go we are surrounded by words: words softly whispered, loudly proclaimed, or angrily screamed; words spoken, recited, or sung; words on records, in books, on walls, or in the sky…”(Way of the Heart, p. 45, Nouwen) Pushing through this cacophony is difficult for sure, but not entirely impossible. Hearing God’s voice is often described in elusive mystical ways, but I find that sometimes it is very practical; indeed some of the keys lie here in John 10.
Throughout John 10 Jesus contrasts who He is with a stranger (possibly satan). He describes Himself as a Shepherd who would do anything, including laying down His own life, for His sheep. Conversely, He describes the stranger in harsh terms. This thief runs at the sign of an attacker. Furthermore this thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, not give abundant life.
When I get internal “voices” I try to discern if the impressions I am getting are consistent with the Good Shepherd or the Thief. When I blow it in any type of sing, sure I know that I have messed up, but I ask God questions such as; “What do You think of me now?” or “Lord can You help me see myself the way that You see me?” Recently I had a major accomplishment and felt very alone and without support. I asked God to speak to me and He began to show me that He loved me in practical ways. Over the next week I received so many acts of random kindness, random gifts of money and compliments. “I am the good Shepherd and I know My sheep, and I am known by my own.” (John 10:14)