In spring, we love visiting a farm to watch lambs being born. There is
something irresistibly fascinating about seeing a bedraggled tangle of
legs and head emerging wetly from the mother and landing in a heap
on the straw, and then within seconds staggering upright and nosing
its way to the ewe’s teats to feed. Soon it has been licked clean all
over and has changed from a strange yellow creature to a fluffy
white bleating cuddly lamb!
Somehow, the mother recognises the unique voice of her lamb.
There may be literally hundreds of sheep and lambs in a field, all
baaing and bleating, but each mother knows her lamb’s voice, and
Our friend is a shepherd, and they know his voice too. They even
know the sound of his car engine, and run over to him as soon as
they hear it. But when Terry and I drove over to see them, they
weren’t the slightest bit interested and stayed obstinately on the far
side of the field.
Jesus said that his sheep know his voice. How often have we read
that, and maybe felt a tiny bit wistful? How often do I hear a voice
and identify it as the Shepherd calling? I have often prayed, “Please
Lord, help me to hear you!” And yet, he does make himself heard in
many and various ways. Often it is as Elijah experienced, “a voice of
gentle stillness”, or as NIV puts it , “A gentle whisper.” Another friend
of ours, who often gets words of knowledge, says it is like a butterfly
fluttering by, soft, unobtrusive…, there it goes! You have to grab on
to it. Was that you Lord? And as you wait, and listen, he confirms it
and maybe adds to it.
Samuel, a young boy serving in the tabernacle, heard a voice in the
dead of night. Who was calling? Who did it sound like? He only knew
the voice of one who regularly spoke to him, mentoring him. It must
be his! He ran to Eli. “Did you call me?”
“No my son, lie down”. It happened again. And again. Now Eli
discerned that the Lord himself was calling the boy. “Next time, say
‘speak Lord, your servant is listening.’”
I find it interesting that to Samuel, God sounded like his mentor,
(although he was very far from being a good model). Its comforting
to know that we can be as the voice of God to someone however
imperfect our example.
For many of us, these days of lockdown present an opportunity to
stop and listen. That still small voice is so easily drowned out by
everyday sounds, and especially is lost in the melee of rush that most
of us live in. I am discovering that for me, rush had become a habit.
My mother ran everywhere, was always trying to catch up with too
many things to do, and unconsciously I imbibed that mind-set, and
have lived with always trying to do things quickly. Now I am finding
that a lot of things are better done slowly! For example, threading a
sewing machine, cutting out a pattern, inserting a zip, are not things
a novice like me can do fast. I planted my runner beans and lettuces
and tomatoes, and everyday I go eagerly to see how they are doing. I
soon found, you cant hurry them, they come in their own good time.
I am finding that listening for the Shepherd’s voice requires patient
waiting. Just position yourself, be there. Get into the habit. Why
should God be required to comply with our time-table? Ecclesiastes
5v1: “Guard your steps when you go near to the house of God. Go
near to listen….do not be quick with your mouth…God is in Heaven,
you are on Earth, so let your words be few.”