1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
I used to think this passage was so hard to understand because I don’t personally know any shepherds. But the text indicates that the Jews and the disciples all sort of scratched their heads at this one. So what is Jesus getting at here, and why all this talk of animals following him through doors? To me, I hear him again using my relationship with my dog and something that happened a couple of weeks ago to teach me a life lesson from his words.
I was out walking my dog a few weeks ago on a bone chilling rainy night when we happened upon a lone puppy out and wandering about. He didn’t have much interest in us, and in fact quickly walked away from us when we tried to approach him. We were near a very busy street in town and I feared for this little guy’s safety as he seemed determined to wander into the street. I was desperate to reach him and read his tags so I could return him home, but no call or whistle would bring him closer to us. After a while, we were able to get close enough that I could grab his collar and get him to safety. He simply wouldn’t respond to me, he didn’t know my voice. This point was made even clearer as my own dear dog continued to obey my every command, sit, stay, come, sit, stay while the lost one just looked at me with absolutely no recognition. My dog knew my voice, and knew me and what I was trying to do and so he easily obeyed me.
So I wonder, whose commands do I hear? Whose voice do I recognize and respond too? Have I trained and practiced following the voice of Jesus enough to easily hear and recognize it? Have I had long walks and talks with him where we communicate and I learn to hear him? Or am I following the voice of my own wants and desires, or worse. . .the voice of the thief who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” I know that in training and working with my dog, it takes daily practice, it takes time, and lots of repetition. And once again I hear the still small voice calling me to more time, more prayer, more depth.
Father God, thank you for your patience with me. Thank you for continuing to show me your will and you way. Help me cut out the clutter, noise and all the distractions that keep me from time with you today. Let’s sit together and practice talking.