“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:14, 27)
We like to think that the noise of the world crowds out the gentler voice of the Spirit, but really, what is blocking my ears tonight is my own grumpiness.
Lately I’ve been waking up sour. I attribute this to several factors – the disobedience of children, the odd work schedule of my husband, hormones, and the stress of packing for vacation. I start the day with a prayer that sounds more like a plea. I plead for grace. I beg for a peaceful day, which in my mind means that the children cooperate, refrain from hitting one another and yelling nonsense words loudly during meals, and (please, God) do not cause property damage.
Whether its family life or a plain case of spiritual malaise, my ears have been deaf. I don’t hear grace. I don’t hear peace. I don’t hear a Shepherd. Instead, I hear failure. I hear discouragement. I hear happy people on the radio talking about 4th of July crafts with their perfect children – and I turn the radio off. I read blogs written by super moms discussing family game nights during which spiritual truths are instantly embodied and put into action by sweet children – and I shut down the computer. I can’t handle the voices of the world right now, even those of the “let-me-advise-you” evangelical world.
I need one Voice, and I need it now.
Voices are personal. When we know people well, we know their voices. When we hear the voices of those we love we feel joy. When their voices are absent, we ache. I’ve been aching lately.
Sheep may be dumb and stinky, but in their own simple way, they get a lot right. They know their shepherd. They hear their shepherd. They follow their shepherd. Because they are near the Shepherd, they can hear him. Near to hear. When they lie down to sleep, the Shepherd lies across the opening of the pen, hemming them inside.
What I need tonight is sheep ears. I need to be near the Shepherd. I need to be hemmed in. I need to stop this pattern of bleating every time I’m discouraged. I need him to speak over my dumb, stinky, weary sheep heart anything so long as it comes from him.