The past twelve months has been a troubled time for us all. COVID has taken loved ones, taken away jobs and income and disrupted lives in general. We’ve had very contentious elections and are not dealing very well with our differences. Patience, understanding and love for each other is at an all-time low. Mr. Potato Head is creating a disturbance for some while a song nominated as number one is full of vulgarities. It’s time for the world to return to listening for God’s and our Savior’s voice.
F. LaGard Smith spends time each year in the Cotswolds’ of England. His book, Meeting God in Quiet Places, was written while there. One chapter he labels “Lambing Time” is in the book. He begins the chapter with a quote from Job 34:4, “Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.”
Mr. Smith finds joy in the lambing time. The shepherd makes sure the ewes bind with her lambs by putting the mom in a yoke while the lamb feeds off of her. This assures the maternal instincts are created. Smith writes: “As much a matter of security as feeding, the mother lets her lambs know that they are alright, and then walks ahead of them, leading them out harm’s way.”
Smith continues: “From what I am told, with lambs it’s not a matter of sight, but sound. Apparently the lamb recognizes its mother’s distinctive voice. Of course there is yet another voice that sheep come to recognize---the shepherd. Perhaps that is due to the sense of security which the shepherd provides. Should it be any surprise, then, that we have a spiritual parallel in Jesus?”
“Jesus, of course, is the perfect, the quintessential Shepherd. At first not even His disciples understood this. So he said to them, ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—I lay down my life for the sheep.”
Smith writes: “Surely that is what Jesus meant when he said that his sheep know his voice. As Jesus’ disciples—as his sheep—we don’t literally hear Jesus talking to us. Jesus’ voice hasn’t been heard on earth since the first century. But as Christians we have a relationship with the Good Shepherd that permits us to know his inner being. As a people of faith, we know how he thinks. We know what he believes. We know what he stands for.” I believe Smith makes the assumption that “people of faith” have studied the gospels so we can know his thinking and beliefs. This understanding does not come by osmosis but by study.
Smith points out that sheep have “the ability to recognize when it is not the shepherd’s voice calling. In fact they run headlong away from strangers—back to the voice they can depend on!”
Smith continues: “Whose voice are we listening to? Do we act as if there are no enemies prowling about—no need to stay near to him who protects us? Are we listening to voices that would lure us away from his care? Voices that seem more exciting, more sophisticated?” Let’s face it Satan has some tantalizing offers for us and he is not bashful about making them readily available. He is always calling us and is delighted when we listen for his voice not Jesus’ voice!!
He goes on: “Like sheep the only way to truly know the voice of God is to make sure that we have gone through the process of “mothering”. Without our own spiritual commitment to obediently follow God’s leading, even the Scriptures can be the instrument of counterfeit voices.”
“Hearing God’s voice is principally a matter of spiritual discernment. ‘The man without the spirit’, says Paul, ‘does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned”. Smith points out that “hearing God’s voice is not always easy”. He says: “But as believers born of the Spirit, we are able to discern.” It seems that we must have a true desire to discern and to believe the Spirit can and will guide us. Otherwise, we will keep listening to Satan and following him.
Smith offers this thought: “How sad it is that we too often turn to God only when something frightening happens to us. At those times, if no other, we recognize our complete dependence on God for, our very survival. If only we could realize how absolutely essential it is that we turn to God daily, aware that there is simply nowhere else to go. That there is no other worthy explanation, no other encouragement, no other hope. That he alone is the One who leads us out of harm’s way.”
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could begin each day recognizing our great need for spiritual nourishment and strength, and praising him for being the true source of our life, the One in whose image we want to continually re-created.”
“The more we come to know God, the more we appreciate how much he desires to satisfy our hearts with their very longing and need. Nothing is too much for us to ask. Certainly, he is our Source, but even more, he is our Sustainer. He suckles us with life and loved.”
“If wet and wobbly lambs are lovable because they are so dependent and vulnerable, how much more lovable we must be the heart of God! That thought alone ought to send us running to h is open arms. And he isn’t hard to find. Just listen to his voice. Over and over he calls to us.”
As I think about Smith’s ideas, it seems obvious that a successful relationship with God takes efforts on my part. Number one: I must CHOOSE to listen for his voice not Satan’s. If I make that choice, the Holy Spirit will make himself available to help me fight Satan’s offerings. Number two: God is waiting for me to make my choice with open arms and heart. He wants me but it’s MY choice! Number three: If I choose to listen to Satan’s voice, God will be sad but will let me go. However, he always has open arms if I repent of my choice and listen for him.
Smith did not write about my next point in this chapter, but I really believe it deserves our consideration. If we are listening to the Good Shepherd, others will take note of our life and hopefully want to know about listening to God/Christ!
Additional verses about listening to God:
John 10:17 – “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
John 8:47 – “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
Romans 10:17 - “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
Isaiah 30:21 – “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Psalm 32:8 – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
Taken from: Meeting God in Quiet Places by F. LaGrard Smith – Copyright 1992- Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 97408 – www.harvesthousepublishers.com