Its way too early, but I wake up, my heart rate elevated, ears straining for the sound that summoned me from slumber. There it is, the squeal of a sleepy but hungry 5 month old. I sit up, ascertain it is indeed my baby while waiting for the room to settle, scuff on my slippers, and go in to the precious little one who awaits my response.
There are at least four babies in our neighbourhood, and sometimes though open windows, it is difficult to tell if the crying one is mine.
Our ears are tunable. We select over time what grabs our attention, and what passes unnoticed. The two people closest to me are David and Raphael, and my ears are particularly sensitive to their voices. I trust David’s observations in my life because he has proven his discernment many times over. I listen intently for Raphael because he depends so entirely on me for his existence.
But there is One whose voice I value and listen for above any human voice. One who loves and desires my attention more than my husband or 5 month old. On this Voice, I am dependant for my very life.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” (John 10)
Many voices make it into the sheep fold of our lives and try to lead us. Not all of them are God, although some may masquerade as God. Sometimes even a trusted friend or shepherd/leader will bear a message that does not come from The Shepherd, and it is the voice of the Holy Spirit, speaking to my spirit that must discern whether the two line up.
I have been that sheep; thinking I am hearing Jesus, I turn to go a direction He did not call from. As I grow, I know more intimately His voice, and His ways. I am learning that to follow the voice of reason in my mind when it contradicts my Shepherd, gets me into a reasonable amount of trouble.
The Shepherd would never put His sheep in a position that would compromise their ultimate wellbeing. Even when we find ourselves, precariously perched on perilous ledges of our own choosing, He is faithful and kind to lead us back to the fold.
What do you do to grow more attune to the voice of God in your life? Does trusting yourself over Jesus keep you from following sometimes? What is Jesus saying to you today?