“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
Once, while on overseas military exercise, I was posted at a checkpoint on a remotem ountainside. It was there that I observed how a farmer shepherded his flock of goats. He had much work to do on his farm, and his goats were unaccompanied as they grazed all over the valley each day. To my astonishment I also saw how each evening, he called his goats from across the valley and they obediently came home.
This was more than 20 years ago, but it has been indelibly etched in my mind, and I have often mulled over this pastoral scene and its lessons.
In particular, I am reminded that Scriptures often compare the relationship between Christ and His followers to that of the shepherd and His sheep (Psalm 23, Matthew 25:31-33, Luke 15:4-7 and others). This is a relationship in which the shepherd protects and cares for the sheep, and the sheep follow the shepherd as one who has responsibility for their welfare. When sheep stray, they are vulnerable to attack by predators. Conversely, the sheep who stay safe are those that closely follow the shepherd. The shepherd carries out his responsibilities by his presence, alert and diligent action, and by speaking (relating) to His sheep.
Often, His prompting comes to us through our own thoughts, feelings, desires and impressions…
Jesus’ followers must develop such a close relationship with Him, that we can recognise and hear His voice. He is alive and present in the world, and speaks to His people today. Often, His prompting comes to us through our own thoughts, feelings, desires and impressions—this is because Christ dwells in us by the Holy Spirit. However, we need to know how to distinguish His voice from our own. Scriptures gives us some clues as to how to do this. One clue is that of a definite and memorable impact. Another clue is when the ‘voice’ is marked by love—the very nature of Jesus. If the impression benefits others at the expense of self, or asks us to deny the flesh, it is likely to be of the Lord. And another characteristic of Jesus’ voice is that it does not contradict the already revealed Word of God.
Ultimately, walking the narrow way involves hearing, trusting and obeying Jesus all at times, and in matters big and small. This is the blessed journey of His disciples (Psalm 128:1).
By Aaron Lee, Elder (YCKC Bulletin 27&28 January 2018)