Today’s teaching at our worship gathering was on listening:
Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good–a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it. – John 10:1-5 (MSG)
Our pastor actually spent time watching sheep this week. He went out to a congregation member’s farm and videotaped trying to interact with the sheep: while the sheep would come right up to the owner – even follow him around for food -, they ran in terror if the pastor tried to approach them. He talked about discerning the voice of God versus the voice of strangers/the world – how we don’t always know how to distinguish them. But when we do, we should act like sheep: cling to the shepherd, flee enemies, etc. Some folks get frustrated because they don’t know what the voice of the Lord sounds like, but he commented that “while sheep know the voice of the shepherd, even lambs have to learn it.”
After service I promptly went to pick my son up from the nursery: it’s one of the few places I know that is actually busier than he is. He threw himself into my arms, and as we were walking out to the car, an older gentleman asked me if my son knew my voice. I said, “Yes, but I don’t know if he really cares.”
See, one of my son’s favorite activities is to destroy the cds lined up on my cd holder. I’m a former librarian and have always been anal by nature: every thing should be in its place so it’s easier to find. CDs should be alphabetized for easy access: it’s simply logical. However, my son thinks it’s quite grand to take all the cds off of the shelf and bang them together. Time after time he heads to the corner to engage in what he considers “play” and I consider “destruction.” When I shout for him to “knock it off!”, he does – literally (an unfortunate choice of words). 😉 He smiles as me and scurries to knock cds as quickly as he can to the floor.
I read a parenting article discussing possible theories for “why does he *do* that?!!?” One person voiced the idea that children do things to get a reaction: they’re “bored” and want some stimulation – what can we do to get the adults jumping? So now instead of getting all excited, I calmly tell Judah to “cease and desist” with the cds, removing him to a different area.
He hears my voice, he knows it . . . but he’s looking for something more. He’s looking for a reaction: the reaction *he* wants. How many times to I hear the voice of God, know the voice, but act differently because I’m looking for a reaction? I ask for God to forgive my sins, to help me in a certain situation, to give me guidence – but if He doesn’t jump when I say jump, I assume He’s not talking or doesn’t mean it or just go about my merry little way to destroy the cds.
So, the tricky thing is to listen and actually *hear* God, despite the filters of the world and my personal preferences. How do I authentically hear God and respect His voice?