Each day we hear many voices.
We hear the voices of children as they play and grow and learn.
We hear the voices of friends and colleagues as they tell stories that make us laugh or make us think.
We hear the voices of news commentators to find out what is taking place around town and around the world.
We hear the voice of the announcer, telling us very sound reasons why we should buy the product that is being advertised.
Then there is another kind of voice, the kind we really would not like to hear, but which demands our attention.
“Bill, I’m afraid we’ve got to lay you off.”
“What are you doing? Who ever thought you were capable of doing this job?”
“Mrs. Adams, this is Dr. Jones. Your test results are in and I’m afraid it is not good news.”
“Mr. Smith, this is the police department. We have your son down at the station.”
These are the kinds of voices that can change our lives, voices bearing bad news. If too many of these voices are heard it can cause us to feel overwhelmed. And if they continue without pause, they can cause some people to try to escape. If we try to escape, another set of voices, very seductive ones, begins to be heard.
“Come on. Have one more drink for the road.”
“Here, try this pill. It will help you forget all about your problems.”
“Come here. Let me take care of you for a while. Your spouse doesn’t understand you like I do.”
Whose voice do you hear? Whose voice do you listen to?
The Bible tells us that the Lord is our Shepherd. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Jesus himself is our Good Shepherd. We are to listen to his voice, just as sheep listen to the voice of their shepherd.
I think this is a wonderful analogy - us being sheep and Jesus being our shepherd. A shepherd knows his sheep. Individual sheep in a flock all look alike to the untrained eye. A good shepherd, however, can tell them apart.
A man who was tending a large flock explained this to a friend who expressed surprise at his familiarity with each animal. “See that sheep over there?” he asked. “Notice how its toes turn in a little. The one behind it has a squint; the next one has a patch of wool off its back; ahead is one with a distinguishing black mark, while the one closest to us has a small piece torn out of its ear.” His friend had never stopped to think about how all the sheep might be different and that the shepherd would know all his sheep.
That is how it is with our Lord. He knows each of us —completely — with all our individual strengths and weaknesses, all our successes and failures. He watches over each of us with discerning love and sympathetic understanding.
Do you hear the Shepherd’s voice calling your name? Listen to his voice. Listen to the voice that tells you that you are loved, that you are precious, and that you are a priceless treasure. Know the Shepherd, just as the Shepherd knows you.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview’s pastor.