The concept is utterly simple: sheep know the shepherd’s voice. But doesn’t it go further? The baby knows the mother’s voice. A father expressing himself to a son in a loving manner does something no other voice can do. The voice of love, however, is not automatic. It is learned by association.
So it is with those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. His statement cannot be mistaken for its clarity: “They, too, will listen to my voice.” John 10:14-16 explains something shocking because God states so emphatically that He loves His sheep and they know His voice. The assumption is critical: relationship with Him is the foundation. He leads them and guides them in a tangible manner.
My first memorable encounter with His voice was His peace. A few days after I was born again I was soaking up the Bible and reading a book. I became aware of His love.
Like a new lamb with a shepherd, my walk slowly grew. He had to untangle me from messes that I made, kept me safe, and taught me to go out with him or come in with Him. I heard Him in the Word; I heard Him in what I saw; sometimes I heard Him in my heart; sometimes I heard Him prophetically from someone else. Just like the verses in John 10, I began to know His love expressed by His voice.
It does not get old. Through circumstances, open doors, the Word, and people, I began to know when He was speaking and when it was just me, or the enemy of my soul, or just plain junk. It did not and does not matter if His voice of love is correction, rebuke, guidance, or just fellowship with my soul. It is always fruitful in the end and settles matters of the heart. It usually involves some act or decision of obedience or doing something.
Whether He leads us on a mission trip to the Philippines (He has), provides a vehicle through unusual circumstances to help the needs of our travels (He has), directs us to give something to someone in need (He has), or arrests our anxieties and settles our hearts (He has), it is our heritage as those who are His. Only a couple days ago I was impressed by the Holy Spirit to encourage a young person to play an instrument, and was prompted to give her a tool by which to do it. The incident encouraged us both that He cares. He loves us. That Voice is worth everything because He is Life.
If you have no faith in Christ, would you consider that He calls people to that kind of relationship—the kind explained in John 10 in clear terms. But, you have to want Him more than anything else. If you know Him already but it seems to be only an exercise in mental ascent, would you dare to believe that His love can go much further, so you, too, can learn to hear His Voice in a fuller way? You only have to believe that His instruction and guidance is meant to be met by your obedience. If you intend to obey Him, it unclogs your ears.
Let the coming year open in a new and expanded way of knowing or being introduced to His love by His Voice.