When we first got sheep, I was amazed at how "not smart" these animals are. Not even joking.. They have these huge eyes that just beat back at you as you try to direct them where they need to go. However, they want to go every which way BUT where you want them to go. Trying to herd them, that was an interesting task to say the least.
Over time, they learned. They learned that if we called out "Sheeeeeep," that meant it was time for supper. They knew we'd be letting them out to graze. They knew that when we called them, that something good was coming. It took learning our voices, gaining trust, and realizing that we were indeed providing them with what they needed. If it was anyone else calling them but us, they wouldn't listen. They didn't recognize the voice. They didn't know, so they didn't go.
Now, we don't even have to call them. If they see us come out in the morning, they walk right where they know they're going, to the fence that will be opened and to the field they will go- fresh grass. They recognize us. They know their shepherds.
As I was reading my devotionals this morning, I reread John 10: 25-30. In there, it says: "The works that I do in my Father's name testify about me. But you don't believe because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish."
My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.
Suddenly, I felt like the sheep He was speaking of.
How often do we pause in our days to take time to hear the Lord in our own lives? If the sheep must hear the shepherd's voice to be directed to the grazing grounds, wouldn't we be wise to do the same? Shouldn't we learn the Word, take time to worship, to grow in our relationship with Christ so that we, too, can hear His voice and walk in the path, be led by Him, and someday experience the eternal life that He promises in which we will never perish?
Don't we, in a sense, become like the shepherd to those around us? If we take the time to learn His word, to allow Him to live through us, won't the lives of those around us be impacted? Couldn't we make Him known to those around us who might not have ever heard of this Jesus guy? Like sheep, we have to learn. Like sheep, they too, those who've never heard of Him, those who've never experienced Him, those who've never heard of His birth, death, and resurrection, they too, can learn. We can all experience this beautiful life He's created for us, and the even more beautiful life He's promised to us once we're gone from this earth, but it requires effort. It requires learning and trust and going when we hear Him call.
Really, we're all like the sheep. We can be wide eyed and confused and become distracted by the noises around us, or we can keep our focus on our Shepherd, the one who wants the green grass, the fresh water for us.
It's easy to let the noise of the world drown out the voice of the Lord. If the sheep are in the middle of a city surrounded by buildings and traffic, it'd be hard for them to hear their shepherd speaking. The same for us. If we allow people's opinions, work, activities, the list is endless, to be louder than Him, we will find ourselves straying from His path.
I know firsthand how easy it is to let that happen because I've allowed the busyness of life to take priority over quiet time with the Lord and I can tell you how incredibly noisy my thoughts, mind, and therefore, my life, became because of it. Sleep was minimal, stress was monumental, it wasn't good. I will tell you that it does take a daily choice, sometimes multiple times per day, to make it a priority, to make it happen, and to choose time with Him over things I have to get done. There will always be things that need to be done, but if you don't make Him a priority, then time with Him just won't happen.
Can I encourage you to pause today? To take time to just sit somewhere, close your eyes, and just be. If your thoughts try to race to what you have to get done, don' let them go there. Be in the present moment. Listen for Him. Listen to the birds that He put on this earth chirping. Listen to the calm breeze. Listen to the beautiful world around you. He's in it all and He created it just for you. Like the sheep, it might take some time to learn, but He won't give up on you.
He'll keep pursuing you, wooing you, providing you with the best grazing grounds, the ice cold water on a hot day. He'll call His sheep, and though the pastures might be new and unfamiliar, His sheep will trust His voice and come running because they know His voice will lead to abundant life.