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The Good Shepherd Leads by His Voice

“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” John 10:3-5

Pink eye was circulating our house a couple of weeks ago (that was after the colds and before the stomach bug 😂), and Eden woke one night screaming because her eye was stuck shut. Blake rushed into the pitch black room to calm her: “Eden, it’s okay honey.” And immediately, she was quiet and comforted. Even though she couldn’t see Blake, the sound of his voice changed everything instantly.

And so it is with our Good Shepherd: we know He is near because He speaks to us. He leads us by his voice, calling each of us by name. (I imagine Him calling each of us by a nickname, the one He has chosen especially for us.) And once He has called us to Himself, He goes before us, leading the way with His voice so that we know where to go next.

But here’s the question: Do we know His voice when we hear it? Are we able to differentiate between His voice and that of a stranger?

We learn His voice first by learning His Word - His beautiful, powerful, precious Word. It is full of wisdom (Matthew 7:24) and it is the weapon we have been given to fight with (the sword of the Spirit, Ephesians 6:17). It is sweet like honey on our lips (Psalm 119:103), a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). It is Truth - alive and active and everlasting (John 17:17, Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 40:8). But…if I’m honest…there have been many seasons in motherhood where it has felt so hard to open the Word: when I’m sleep deprived or overwhelmed at all there is to do. When I’m wrestling with the sacrifices required by motherhood or frustrated that I can’t just sit down and read when I want to.

And yet…we must fight against this, pressing on and increasing our intake of God’s Word however we are able to in our current season of motherhood (this will definitely take creativity, intentionality and perseverance!). We need his Word, the voice of the Good Shepherd, ESPECIALLY as we run the marathon of motherhood. We need His guidance, comfort and wisdom. We need to be reminded of His promises and Truth. We need to keep growing in His Word because it will never return void: it will produce good fruit in us and through us (Isaiah 55:11). (find practical ideas for turning to the Word in motherhood here)

The Good Shepherd also speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, who whispers Truth to us and provides guidance. He is our Comforter and our Advocate, and He reminds us of the words of Jesus (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:13). His voice will never contradict the Word of God. It will never condemn us, but will convict us and lead us back to our Good Shepherd and the flock so that we can live in shalom and safety once more. As we know our Good Shepherd longer and spend more time with Him, His voice will become clearer to us.

I admire how one of my sweet mom friends leads her two young children - when they are upset or acting out, she draws them near, takes them away from others present, and whispers to them. She whispers tender words of comfort and reminds them of Truth. This reminds me of how God desires to speak to us - He longs to draw us close, intimately address our specific situations and needs, and remind us of who we are and who He is.

The problem is…our world is ever growing more noisy, with voices bombarding us from every direction. There is no lack of “strangers” to follow. And John 10:5 reminds us: we must “run away” from a stranger’s voice, from any voice that is not that of the Good Shepherd! We must tune them out and turn away, trusting in the voice of the Good Shepherd instead.

This might look like distancing yourself from social media for a season, or shutting off the show that isn’t benefiting your thought life. This might mean taking a break from your favorite podcasts for a week and listening to God in silence instead (this is my action step! 🙈). This might mean cutting out something in your schedule (even if it is something “good”) so that you have margin to read the Word of God daily. We must habitually make space for time in the Word and silence so that we can listen to Jesus. Only then will we become so intimately familiar with the voice of the Good Shepherd that we flee at the sound of any other voice.

As we model this for our children, may they come to see the worth of the Word and the whispers of the Good Shepherd. May we teach them what the Good Shepherd’s voice sounds like so that they can know when to lean in and listen, and when to turn and flee from a stranger’s voice. I’m praying that as you spend time with Jesus this week, you would hear His voice leading you clearly as you run the marathon of motherhood.

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