Belief · Christian Living · Faith

Ears to Hear and the Will to Follow

The rodeo–always a fun {slightly concerning} family affair. On a recent trip, while watching the mutton busting, cue obnoxious cheering that embarrassed our teenagers {parent win}, and shamelessly adoring the little darlings holding on for dear life–I couldn’t help but notice the sheep {already ridden} congregating in a corner of the large arena. It was fascinating and disturbing all at once. If you’ve ever watched sheep, you understand why.

Those sheep {huddled together in a corner} were without direction. Seriously. They only moved when another one moved. It was alarming and eye-opening. They were going nowhere. They chased each other in circles in a tiny corner of the very large arena. It struck me, as the crowds continued to cheer on the little darlings, how many times I’ve been a sheep aimlessly chasing another sheep.

It happens sometimes. I get so caught up in the latest trend and begin to follow the path of another sheep–sometimes even aspiring to look, behave or live more like another sheep.

As I reflected, I was reminded of John 10 when Jesus is teaching about the shepherd and his flock. The passage illuminates my need for a shepherd. Sheep without a shepherd fall off cliffs, roam aimlessly, get lost and follow other aimless sheep.

A shepherd changes the trajectory of otherwise lost sheep. How? In verse 4, Jesus says that the sheep follow the shepherd because they know they sound of his voice.

They listen. Actively listen.

Sheep know where to walk because they follow the Shepherd’s voice and footprints.

What hinders sheep from actively pursuing a relationship with the Shepherd? Maybe hurtful experiences, or fear get in the way. This was {and often still is} true for me.

My relationship with my father was not a safe place. For that reason, I unknowingly applied my dissatisfaction, insecurity and hesitation onto my relationship with God. It wasn’t an intimacy I craved. So, I avoided God.  My resume of rebellion speaks for itself in this area.

Maybe God’s presence does not, or has not ever felt like a safe place. Maybe fear stands in the way of pursuing an intimate trusting relationship with him. Maybe regret, or past sin stands in the way. Maybe it’s pride. All have been true of me at different seasons in my faith journey.

But now I am fully convinced I need a Shepherd. The Word refers to him as a good shepherd in John 10:11, and the great shepherd in Hebrews 13. Nothing is greater than His love and leading. Nothing. And no, I’m not worthy, but Jesus dealt with my unworthiness on the cross. It’s time to accept that it really is finished–and that in his presence is security.

In order for me to know my Shepherd’s voice–I have to spend time with him. Intentionally listening for the sound and inflection of his voice. Imagine my surprise when I realized that no one would carve out margin for me to actively spend time listening to {and for} my Shepherd. I had to fight for time with him {what?}.

Time with him in worship, prayer and the word are crucial because only then am I prepared to know his voice and follow his leading.

Remember those rodeo sheep {huddled in the corner}? Yes, those. They went nowhere following one another around. They literally walked around in small circles in a tiny corner of the arena. The arena was so big, but when they followed each other their journey was small…not at all what it could be. After awhile, a cowboy rode over and spoke a command over the sheep. Guess what? They followed him out of that corner and into the comfort of their pen.

Oh how I long to be that sheep. The one that stops following other sheep-walking in small circles when there is so much more available, and respond to the voice/leading of the Shepherd.

Psalm 23:1 says, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. In His presence we will not be lacking anything.

One thought on “Ears to Hear and the Will to Follow

  1. My beautiful and gifted wife, friend, writer…I am honored to seek the voice of our Shepherd with you! Thanks for following this sheep though, all those years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

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