A well-dressed man in his early forties and his fiancée were sitting in an upscale Chicago restaurant waiting at their table for their meal. While deeply engrossed in conversation with his wife-to-be, the man sensed that someone was waiting behind him near his right shoulder.
“Excuse me for cutting in,” a woman’s voice suddenly bellowed, “but you wouldn’t happen to be Harlton Grummokes, would you?”
The man momentarily turned away from his fiancée and replied in his deep professional voice, “Why yes, Madam, I certainly am, and you must be one of the followers of my program.”
“Oh my goodness, it really is you!” the woman burst forth in excitement. “I’m Martina Harsterne. My friend and I are visiting from Alberta, Canada, and I listen to your radio program every week.”
“Well, I’m much obliged. I presume that you are really benefitting from it?” Grummokes inquired.
“Definitely! I’ve learned so much from your in-depth discussions and interviews,” the woman eagerly responded.
“So how did you recognize me, since you probably know that I rarely wear suits or dine in fine restaurants?” Grummokes further inquired.
“Oh, I didn’t have the slightest idea what you looked like, what you wear, or even where you eat. In fact, I wasn’t even expecting to ever see you in person. It was your voice that I recognized almost immediately,” the woman continued, “There are certain qualities about your voice that are not like any other. Besides, I’ve been listening to your voice long enough now that I could easily pick you out of a crowd of people!”
How many times do we recognize someone solely by his voice? There are occasions when it is the only way that we are able to identify a person we know. Children quickly learn and know their parent’s voices, partially through sheer repetition, but mostly through intimacy. If we were to blindfold someone who has been married for decades, we would often see how easily they will acknowledge the voice of their spouse when he or she calls out in a crowd. Research has shown that each of us has a unique voiceprint, just like our fingerprints.
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Recognizing His voice isn’t something that occurs immediately. A relationship has to be developed over a period of time. A bond must be formed that is closer and greater than our relationship with friends, relatives, our spouse, or even our children. We need to be willing to let everything go and say in our heart, “Lord, I am all yours; do as you will.” As we yield ourselves to Him with passionate desire and devotion, then He will make Himself more and more known to us. “Draw nigh[near] to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8).
Sheep, like a lot of animals, will not easily follow someone they do not know. Many times they will run away in another direction when someone else calls to them. Only the shepherd that they have been raised under for many, many years will they readily follow when he calls them. “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:5). When the True Shepherd calls, will we know His voice? Have we spent so much time in His presence that when He speaks we will recognize Him, sight unseen? Or have we wandered so far that His voice can no longer be heard? Is our relationship with Him so weak that we can’t even acknowledge that it is He who is speaking?
Just as with any diligent and loving shepherd, Jesus wants us to know His voice. He desires that we spend more of our time seeking and learning about Him. That means reading and studying His Word, the Bible. Most importantly, He wants us to spend more dedicated time with Him in worship and prayer, not five minutes or an hour here and there.
When we want to know more about someone in a relationship, we don’t engage in a conversation with him or her for a short time every so often. We try to find any possible moment and means to be around and communicate with him or her, whether it is in person, on the phone, by a computer, or by mail. We really desire to know him or her better. Likewise, this should be our yearning to know Him whom we claim to love the most. He should be on our mind continually. Naturally, we are always going to hear voices of all kinds around us, but as we get to know Jesus more intimately, His still, small voice will be the one heard most clearly in our heart, just as a child readily hears his mother’s whisper.
Right now the Shepherd is speaking to us. Are we listening for His voice?