So, I had the honor and privilege of sharing with over a hundred 4th-7th grade girls yesterday at GEMS Camp. (Yes you read that right – 4th-7th graders. Jesus be near!) They were ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTFUL. As I studied John 10 in preparation to share, I realized that the message I was going to give them was as much for me as for them. (Isn’t that the way it always goes!)
John 10:1-10 says:
“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! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 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. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, 7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me[a] were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.[b] They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
The imagery of sheep and shepherds is prevalent throughout Scripture and John 10 is a prime example. One of my favorite authors, Margaret Feinberg, wrote a beautiful book called, “Scouting the Divine” where she spent time exploring first hand the meaning behind some of the most frequent Biblical metaphors, including sheep. One of the most amazing things I learned is that sheep really do know and respond to their shepherd’s voice.
Margaret spent time with a real shepherdess on a farm in Oregon. She describes arriving and accompanying the shepherdess to go meet the flock. After quietly approaching and ensuring the gate was securely closed behind (we’ll talk about the importance of gates in a future blog), the shepherdess called out, “SHEEP, SHEEP, SHEEP”. And to Margaret’s amazement, the sheep came running. Yes, sheep really do know their shepherd’s voice.
So…do you know your Shepherd’s voice?
Have you learned to recognize it above the buzz and distractions of daily life? Have you taken the time to develop the trusting relationship required to know when your Shepherd calls? If not, maybe it is time. He’s calling you, and if you read closely, he’s even calling you BY NAME!
(Next week we’ll talk more about sheep, shepherds, and these precious GEMS girls.)