Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” At first this sounds like a logical, easy progression of events. We hear God’s voice, and we follow. Except, in actual experience, it can be difficult to know when we’ve heard the voice of God. Frequently, it is unclear whether the advice from a trusted friend, colleague, or pastor is really a word from God or just another random piece of counsel. Through all the clamor of myriad messages with which the modern world increasingly surrounds us, we struggle to distinguish the voice of the Shepherd. Even as we try to discern the voice of God, we struggle to know.
Just as the sheep recognize their shepherd’s voice through repeated experience and practice, so also we become more adept at recognizing the voice of God. We would be wise, then, to cultivate practices of silent meditation and carve out spaces of quiet to enable godly listening. Yet, here is the good news: The Shepherd knows us. As we foster attentive ears ready to hear God in any given moment or situation and take that first step of faith in conviction of things not yet seen, the source of our assurance is not so much our knowledge of God but the Shepherd’s perfect knowledge of us. God knows our every need, weakness, and fear. God knows our every gift and our heart. The Good Shepherd always seeks our well-being, and no one can snatch that away. Rather than relying upon our own questionable ability to know, we can hear and follow in the absolute assurance that God knows us and anticipates our every need.
Lord, quiet the world’s perpetual noise, saying, “Peace, be still!” Help me learn to be still enough to hear your voice. Teach me to rest in the assurance that you know me and have anticipated my every need. Amen.
The imagery of sheep plays a prominent role in three of this week’s readings. Psalm 23 uses the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep as its guiding metaphor. The Lord is our shepherd and leads us to safe and fertile places. Even when we pass through a dark valley, the Lord is there protecting us with a shepherd’s weapon, a staff. In the Gospel reading, Jesus describes himself as a shepherd who calls his sheep. Because they are his, they hear his voice. In Revelation, Jesus becomes the sheep—or more specifically, the Lamb that was slain on our behalf. Those who endure will praise the Lamb forever. Acts is different in that it focuses on a resurrection story, a manifestation of God’s power working through Peter.
Read Acts 9:36-43. How can you be a witness and a vessel for God’s activity?
Read Psalm 23. Reflect on the questions the author poses in Tuesday’s meditation. Allow God’s guidance and correction to be comforting.
Read Revelation 7:9-17. How does knowing Christ as both Lamb and Shepherd help you work to bring about things not yet seen?
Read John 10:22-30. How does your faith allow you to hold gently your convictions without needing to grasp tightly to certainties?
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