The day after Christmas a dear friend pulled up a post I had made on facebook in 2009. As I reread it I am reminded that as I enter 2017 it is still very relevant....
Many years ago, before my missionary days, I heard Dr. Bill Hindman give a sermon on John 10. I have never forgotten it and since then it has been my favorite passage. For the first time in my young life as a Christian, I really understood that Jesus knew my name. I could know that he had called out to me, specifically. But equally reassuring was that I had and would recognize his voice and that because I am one of his sheep I will follow him. That is particularly reassuring these days as we contemplate where we will be in the future.
So many marvelous reassurances in this passage. So many promises. But do you have the same struggle I have? Do you sometimes hear the voice of the thief, the one who would steal from you the spiritual abundance that comes when following your shepherd? Do you sometimes hear others calling out to their sheep? But they are not your shepherd. They do not call out your name in quite the same way. Sometimes, do the screaming voices of the world around you seem to drown out the voice of Jesus? Friend, I'm with you.
In one of my music classes in Brussels, we were listening to different pieces of music. We would name the different instruments that we heard. It was a challenge for most of us to say the least, especially as it was the first time for many of us to even attempt it. Our professor explained that in fact he is so accustomed to it, that he literally cannot simply take in a piece of music as it is. He immediately begins to analyze and pick out the different instruments he hears and the parts they are playing. Amazing! He encouraged us by saying that we ourselves after only one session were on our way to being able to do the same thing. It was a question of learning the different instruments, learning to focus, and learning to separate out the sounds.
The voice of Jesus is the same way. Indeed there are other voices around us attempting to drown him out. But when we learn his voice, we learn to focus, and we learn to separate out the other voices, there will be only one voice for us and we will follow it without question. No other voice will tempt us. We will by instinct know the voice that is for us. And even after all these years in so many different places, contexts, and cultures, I can honestly say life is abundant when we hear, listen, and follow.
So go ahead little lamb, follow the voice of your shepherd.
Question: What voice are you hearing?
Epilogue: We ended up in Houston, Texas and it could not have been a place more fitted for our calling, our gifts, and our passions. It was hard listening to Jesus in the turmoil that eventually brought us to this place, but so worth the effort. We have entered a new phase of ministry with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in which we raise all of our operational and ministry funds. In just a few weeks we are at 44% of our goal! As we wind down 2016 we are very grateful to each of you who have given to the Offering for Global Missions, who have given to our ministry; who have prayed for us, who have encouraged us, and who have been voices that have helped us listen to the voice of the Shepherd as he leads and guides us. Because of you we have been able to address the scourge of human trafficking in significant ways. have been able to help refugees adjust to living in the United States and have helped us birth a business, Threads by Nomad that provides jobs in the US to refugees and micro-enterprise opportunities for artisans overseas. As we look to 2017 we anticipate with joy and excitement all the Shepherd has in store for us. Pray that we hear his voice as we continue the ministry he has entrusted to us.