Friday, February 23, 2007


My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I might meditate on your words. Psalm 119:148 NAS

He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Matthew 13:9 NAS

Jesus called the crowd to him, and he said, "Listen and understand." Matthew 15:10

Therefore, God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.
Hebrews 4:7

When I was in second grade, our class went outside for recess. I fell in with some acquaintances who were not in my class, but who invited me to join them in a game of jump rope. All around me floated the happy voices of children at play. These voices faded into the background, as I became more and more absorbed with my acquaintances and the game.

When my teacher called for the class to go inside, my classmates heard her voice. They fell in line behind her, and they followed her to the classroom.

I was oblivious. I did not hear her call.

Finally, I realized that some time had passed. I looked up for my teacher. I couldn't see her. Neither could I see my classmates. My heart sank.

I was with acquaintances, but I did not know them nearly so well as I knew the boys and girls in my class. And, the other teachers were strangers to me.

No other teacher would do. I wanted my teacher. And, I wanted my friends. I did not like the feeling of being where I wasn't supposed to be. I felt alone.

An older girl called over to me, "Did you know that your class already went inside?"

Upon hearing that, I dashed for my classroom. My teacher chided me for not listening for her voice. But, she forgave me, and I took my seat. I felt safe again, because I was with the teacher. I was with my class. I was where I should be. All was well.

I learned an important lesson that day. No matter where you are or what you are doing in life, it's important to listen for the teacher's voice!

In John Chapter Ten, Jesus identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd. He teaches us that He calls his sheep by name and that they follow him, because they know his voice. He says that they do not follow the voice of a stranger, whose voice they do not recognize. Later on in the same passage, He comments that His sheep listen for his voice.

From the moment we get up in the morning until we lay our heads on our pillows at night, two voices fall on our ears: the stranger's voice and the Shepherd's voice. The stranger doesn't care about us. He just wants to lure us to destruction. His voice is a lie disguised as truth. His voice appeals to the sinful nature in us. It is, by turns, tempting and by turns accusing.

By contrast, the Shepherd came to give us life. He loves so much about us that He gave His life to redeem us. He loves us as individuals, and He calls each of us by name. He wants what is best for us, and He tells us the truth. His voice is the one we can trust.

That's why it's so essential that no matter how busy we are, we intently listen for and heed the Shepherd's voice. The Shepherd speaks to us in many ways, but we know him especially through his word. Having his word dwell in our hearts is essential to an intimate relationship with him.

As Jesus says, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own, they belong to the Father who sent me."
John 14:23.

What do we do when we receive a special letter from someone we love? We read it over and over again until we know it by heart. If the letter contains our loved one's special wishes or instructions, we eagerly carry them out. Why? Because we love the person, and it means a lot to us that the person has entrusted us with their words. How much more should we love reading and pondering the Shepherd's words?

Why do shepherds expect their sheep to follow them? Why do teachers ask children to listen to their voice? Why do parents want children to obey them?

Well, we want them to listen for the same reason my second-grade teacher wanted me to listen more carefully to her voice. I have no clue what she was thinking when I got separated from the class. Since I was in her care, perhaps it was partly her fault that I was left behind. But, no matter what happened, she did not want the same thing to happen again. She did not want me to go off alone, away from her protection.

We expect obedience because we love our children, and we want to train them and protect them. A child's life depends on whether or not he hears an adult's voice. Whether it's a two year old who'd headed for a busy street or a sixteen year old who drives too fast, listening to a parent's warning will deliver him from danger. Moreover, a child needs an adult to teach him the skills he needs for life, as well. Sometimes, a child may not understand our commands, but he must trust that what we say is for his best.

In the same way, God expects us to listen carefully to his words. We do grow and mature in Christ. But, who can ever say that we've outgrown the need for the Shepherd's instructions? Sometimes, we may not understand God's commands, but we must trust that what He says is for our best.

The beautiful thing about the Shepherd's voice is we can hear it the moment we listen for it. He does not walk off the playground and leave a willing, but absent-minded child stranded all alone. In fact, He searches all over the playground for the strays in order to bring them safely home again. (Luke 15). He will never abandon us, neglect us, or forget where we are.

However, there will come a time when the opportunities for responding to the Shepherd's voice in this lifetime are over. Thus, the Shepherd is serious about our need to hear and to obey His words now, and He lays out the dangerous consequences of neglecting them. He warns us against sticking our fingers in our ears and hardening our hearts to his voice.

The Shepherd's words protect us. His words guide us. His words refine us. His words ennoble us. His words challenge us. His words bear fruit in us. His words delight us. His words are life.

Let's Listen!



Beemoosie said...

Very wonderful post!

Elizabeth said...

Hi B.

Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful Elizabeth. May I link from my blog? I would like to share it :)

Elizabeth said...

Hi Sarah,

I'd be honored to have you link to it. When I was writing it, I knew what I wanted to say in my head, but was wondering if it was coming together in a way that made sense to anyone else. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed it Elizabeth, I'm going to print it out to keep. I'll do a link from my blog tomorrow, because we are out for a meal tonight.

Wendy WaterBirde said...

Hi Elizabeth, Sarah was right, this was wonderful!

Blessed Lent <>< Wendy

eph2810 said...

I so have to agree with Sarah-what a beautiful reflection on our Savior's voice...Yes, we wander sometimes, but if we listen, He calls our name.
Thank you for a wonderful reflection...

Julieann said...

Elizabeth--this post was so good. I really liked how you used a letter from a loved one to relate to what you wanted to get a across. I think if we all read the bible the way we would all read a love letter, things would be so awesome. Your words came out so well and beautifully.


Elizabeth said...

Hi Wendy, Eph28:10, amd Julie,
It was great to hear from each of you!