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Seeing and Hearing 13: Hearing the Shepherd’s Voice

03/16/2012 1 comment

“When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers…. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (Jn. 10:4, 5, 27)

In the early 70’s a group of young people invited me to speak to them on hearing the Shepherd’s voice. At that time I was still a novice at hearing from him. Sometimes I thought I was hearing and it later became obvious I was listening to a stranger’s voice. I agreed to teach the group but was very insecure in my own ability to hear.

I went to the text above and became even more insecure. “If I am a sheep, why do I listen to the stranger’s voice?” I asked myself. “Perhaps I’m not even a sheep!” My insecurities were increasing as I meditated on these verses. I realized I had been allowing words from the stranger’s voice form and frame my life (see blog #4 of this series).

Then I noticed he said, “I know them, and they follow me.” I remembered the statement in the Sermon on the Mount, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). He knows those who hear his voice and follow, but he doesn’t know those who cast out demons and prophesy in his name but do not do the will of his Father. (I understand that to mean hear and respond to his voice. See blog #12). Wow! Now I really need help.

I had deceived myself into thinking I understood his will because I had learned to read the Hebrew and Greek Bible (see blog #8). The revelation of the function of the human spirit in hearing God had not yet come to me (see blog #5). I had been trying to live by every word written in the biblical text without hearing the word that was presently proceeding from his mouth (Lk. 4:4, see blog #11).

The secrets of the kingdom have always been available to those who have hearing ears (see blog #7). I realized that I would never have access to the secrets of the kingdom if I don’t learn to hear his voice. The desire to bring a good teaching to the young people was no longer the thing driving me. I wanted to know for myself. Serious prayer time followed.

As my insecurities and self-condemnation mounted, I heard the shepherd say to me, “Read the text again.” So I did. But it still said the same thing. “Read it again,” he responded. After a few times I suddenly noticed what it did NOT say. It did not say, “My little lambs hear my voice.” The little lambs play around with one another and pay little attention to the shepherd. One becomes a sheep when he arrives at a level of maturity where hearing the shepherd’s voice is normal.

Every shepherd has a goad (a staff with a hook and a barb on the end). When the lambs are beginning to lag behind, the shepherd grabs their hind-leg with the goad. They soon learn that they must respond his voice to avoid the pain. “I’m still a lamb,” I said to myself. “I am in the process of learning to hear his voice,” I sighed with relief.

“The goad has been in my hind-leg quite a bit lately. My Shepherd loves me enough to get my attention,” I thought. So the presence of the goad in our life indicates we are still learning – we are not yet perfect. The goad encourages us to move to the next level of maturity.

Through this process over the next few years I learned he wanted to be my friend, not just my Lord Master. He wanted to do the work of ministry with me. He didn’t want me to do it FOR him; he wanted to do it WITH me (see blog #12). Friends do things together. He is our friend and enjoys working together with us to accomplish Father’s will on earth as in heaven.

The work of ministry is different with each of us. We find our place in ministry as we hear and respond to his voice. For some, ministry is in the market place or in the work force. For others, it is at home raising children or in the Mall talking to people. We are all called to ministry. Listen to his voice for the call each day.

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Fount Shults
On Word Ministries
http://onword.org