This week I’ve been studying shepherds.
They herd sheep.
But now I’ve realized my picture of sheep-herders is all wrong. I usually think of long-robed, bearded bedouins, walking behind a flock of animals pushing them along and keeping them from straying off to the right or left. My imagination is probably influenced by the old TV westerns where cattle drives were noisy, dusty, chaotic ordeals involving whips and prods and lots of shouting. Sheep-herders have a different style.
Instead of walking behind their flocks and driving them from the rear, shepherds go out in front of their animals. As long as the sheep hear the sound of their leader’s voice, they keep following along. This means, of course, that the shepherd must keep up a steady stream of encouraging words; he never shouts, as that would scare the sheepish bunch and send them running. Little lambs grow up with the comforting sound of their shepherd’s voice guiding them and as long as they listen, they can trust him to keep them safe.
When I was out west bonding with my new grandson, I observed something amazing. One day I was in the living room with Hudson, sitting on the couch, looking at his fingers and toes. I was talking and cooing to him and he was working hard to focus his eyes on me. Then my daughter walked into the room and said something. Immediately, Hudson turned his head toward the sound of his mommy’s voice. He knew that voice! He was only a week old, but the sound of her words captured his attention. After all, he had been listening to that beautiful sound from his fifteenth week of development.
So I’m learning that the more I listen, the more familiar the voice of my Shepherd will become. The more I study His words, the easier it will be to know when He’s speaking. The better I know Him, the sweeter the sound of The Voice.