Following The Shepherd’s Voice

My youngest son was a very mischievous at two years old and once got lost at a large department store. At the time, I had three children under five, including a baby who was almost one year old. I was already a single mother by that time, but thankfully my mom came with me to the store that day to help me. As I was looking for some nice clothes to wear to work, Noah (my son) decided to hide under the clothes rack. He kept escaping from the stroller, so I let him walk beside me. After getting distracted for a few minutes, Noah decided to hide under one of the clothing racks. I freaked out and I looked everywhere. I was shouting his name through the store, but he wouldn’t come to me. I panicked! Finally, store personnel and my mom came to my aid to help me find my baby.

Have you noticed that time seems to go slow when something bad is happening? That’s how I felt. Noah was probably only out of my sight for about ten minutes, but it felt like a lifetime. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I found his hiding spot. He was giggling and pointing at me like it was a joke, so I pulled him out from under the rack and strapped him into the stroller and we left the store. I reprimanded Noah, but he was so young and I don’t think he really understood why I was upset with him. If only he had obeyed my voice, he wouldn’t have gotten lost in the store.

Scripture calls us sheep and our good shepherd is the LORD Himself. He says that we know His voice and we follow Him (John 10:3-4, John 10:14-16), but what happens when we wander away from the flock? Back in biblical times, the shepherd was the overseer of the flocks. He would feed and protect the sheep from predators using his rod and staff. If a sheep strayed from the flock, the shepherd would go get the sheep and bring him back to his flock. If a predator came, the shepherd would use his rod to hit the animal until he fled, but sometimes the stubborn sheep would succumb to the predator and be eaten. As Christians, the predator is Satan and we know that he is out to seek, kill and destroy us (John 10:10). He comes as an angel of light (1 Corinthians 11:14) to try and trick us into believing that he is good, so we might leave God and follow his wiles.

When we leave our Shepherd, we become strayed and this makes it easier for the predator to catch us and steal us, but all we have to do to get back to the flock is to listen to the Shepherd’s voice and follow Him. “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture (Jeremiah 23:1)!” God is angry at the one who tries to steal us away from the flock and His vengeance will be poured out on the enemy.” Thankfully, once we become part of the sheep of God’s pasture, we will always be members of His flock. The temptation to leave God’s flock can sometimes seem overwhelming and impossible to overcome, but we have to stay focused on God’s Will for our lives and His desire to be with us. “‘I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,’ says the LORD (Jeremiah 23:4).”

I know that I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s so important, so I’m going to say it again: we can stay in God’s good graces by praying, reading scripture, and living out God’s commandments by way of the Holy Spirit. Knowledge is important in God’s realm of eternity. We are commanded to hide the Word in our hearts (Proverbs 4:4) and to take firm hold of instruction (Proverbs 4:13). These steps are important to God, otherwise He wouldn’t command them of us. If we set our sights on God’s desires for our life, it becomes harder to see what the enemy is trying to do to us. If we resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7), what better way to resist him but to be in God’s Word?

There is a spiritual battle going on in our hearts. I discovered this during my years of deep depression and darkness. I was caught by Satan and he was biting on me, trying to destroy my life…but then God happened. All it took for me was to hear God’s small, still voice calling on me to come to Him. He wanted to tend to me like any good shepherd would. Jeremiah 23:4 says, “‘I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,’ says the LORD.” While God is gracious and merciful, we can’t forget that He is also vengeful and jealous. We are commanded not to have any other before Him (Exodus 20:3) and He is serious when he says that He will not hear us if we’re living in sin (John 9:31). Being separated from God, in my opinion, is the loneliest place, and that’s why Satan wants to take us from Him.

The day I lost my son will forever be ingrained in my head. Not just because it was a terrible day, but because it was one of the first days I ever asked God for help. He came through for me that day and I wonder if that’s how He felt all those years when I was the lost sheep. I can attest to God’s grace because it has covered me so abundantly. I pray I never stray again.

LORD, thank you for being such a good Shepherd and for wanting what’s best for us. Your rod and staff are a comfort to me, and I pray that they also comfort others who are going through some really tough stuff. Let your Word fulfill the hearts who have gone astray and let it bring them back to the flock of Your pasture. I ask this in Jesus holy Name. Amen!

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