Devotions

Can I Really Hear Jesus Speak to Me?

March 9, 2020
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 (NIV)
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“Brewster!” I called cheerfully. I waited momentarily, expecting to see my sweet beagle eagerly running toward where I stood at the back door, holding his dinner bowl.

Silence.

I stepped out of the house to better discern his location by the telltale jingle of metal dog tags.

“Brewster?!”

Still nothing. Literally, neither hide nor hair. I took a few more steps into the yard.

“Brewster!!!”

The search was on. After a short and slightly annoyed walk, I discovered Brewster at the side of the house, his nose blissfully buried in some bushes. This time, he finally responded to my call, joyfully wagging his tail as he accompanied me back to the house for his meal.

Beagles are known for their “selective hearing.” Bred as scent hounds, they never intend to ignore their master. But the minute their nose catches a smell, their ears apparently lose reception. They may eventually wander home, or they may end up a mile away, lounging in the sun on a neighbor’s porch. (I may or may not be speaking from personal experience.)

My dog is a regular reminder of the words in today’s key verse, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Earlier in John 10, Jesus announces that He is the good shepherd. He loves His sheep, cares for them and leads them. He calls to them — me! — to trust His plan and follow Him.

Working through the lens of this verse, I have two responsibilities as I seek to follow Jesus’ calling in my own life. One is to know the shepherd’s voice, and the other is to follow Him.

In my experience, the shepherd rarely shouts. Instead, I describe His voice as a gentle whisper behind my ear. I do not hear an audible voice, but there is always a clear message, and that message is always accompanied by peace, even if the instruction is not easy. Here are some of the messages I’ve heard over the years:

“I love you.”

“Pray for [name of person].”

“I am calling you to teach and encourage ministry leaders.”

“You are holding onto unforgiveness toward [name].”

“I am with you.”

“Trust Me.”

Many other voices compete for my attention: my own ideas and insecurities, cultural values and social media, well-meaning friends and family. Over the years, I have learned that the best way to tune out these voices and tune in to the voice of Jesus is to simply make time to quietly sit and listen. When I pause to listen, the call of my shepherd becomes clear.

After I’ve heard my Savior call to me, my second responsibility is simply to follow Him. It doesn’t matter whether I know all the details or just the very next step. Thankfully, I know from experience that the shepherd loves me, knows me and cares for me. He wants only what is best for me. When I ignore His voice or disregard His call, I miss out on opportunities to better know, love and serve Him.

Just as with listening for the shepherd’s voice, there are myriad distractions that take me off the path of following Him.

I doubt the voice; I doubt myself. I grow fearful of the criticisms of others. I remember the times when following wasn’t easy. Or, I seek the easy road. I procrastinate. I lose myself in Netflix or social media.

But then I hear that gentle voice again: “Angie …”

It is the shepherd’s voice. I hear it. I know it. And I take another step.

Dear God, thank You for continuing to call to us, even when at first we do not hear You or respond. Thank You for Your everlasting love and patience as our good shepherd. Help us to follow You wherever You lead. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY

Matthew 4:18-20, “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES

Learn how to hear the shepherd’s voice and discover your unique calling in Angie Ward’s book, I Am a Leader: When Women Discover the Joy of Their Calling.

CONNECT

Sign up for Angie’s Learning Links email to follow what she is working on, learning about, and laughing at each week. You can also connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Enter to WIN your very own copy of I Am a Leader by Angie Ward. To celebrate this book, Angie’s publisher will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, March 16, 2020.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND

What do you hear the good shepherd saying to you? How will you respond to His call? Let us know in the comments section!


Angie Ward, Ph.D., is a leadership author and teacher with nearly 30 years of experience in church, parachurch and Christian higher education ministry. A sportswriter in a previous life, Angie loves running, basketball, humor, movies and juicy cheeseburgers with fresh-cut fries (see: running). She and her husband have two young adult sons and one very spoiled beagle.

© 2020 by Angie Ward. All rights reserved.

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