My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” John 10: 1-5
Jesus. The shepherd of our souls. The GOOD Shepherd of our souls.
So the past few weeks I have not been able to move past this — Jesus is our shepherd.
I don’t know about you, but for me, Psalms 23 is life to my soul. I read it and am reminded of anything I may have somehow forgotten. Jesus. My Lord. My best friend. My Shepherd. With Him — I always have more than enough. The one who offers a resting place for my soul. Leads me besides still waters. Jesus. He restores and refreshes. He leads me along his footsteps of righteousness, conquering my fear and leading me through. My strength. My peace. My Jesus. With me always. Ever near. I am not alone.
Something I LOVE about God is that when He knows our heart needs to GET something (come to have or hold something, when we need to receive it), He has a way of making sure that we do. We’ll read it four different times in four different places, it might be the underlying message in a sermon you listen to one night or the first song that comes on in the morning. For me, this theme—Jesus being my Shepherd—was one of those things. Sometimes I genuinely wonder how I miss such extravagant truths hidden in such simple words for so long? Holy Spirit, would my awareness of you be heightened, open my ears, open my eyes. You have my heart.
Hear me out, I’m no farm girl here. I’ve never wrangled a chicken or caught a goat by it’s back leg at family thanksgiving. But here’s what I’ve gathered about sheep and their shepherd and the pen and it’s gate. The sheep’s pen is where the sheep rest. It’s where they abide with Jesus as their keeper. It’s the place they stay until they hear Jesus calling them out by name. Their name. He knows your name, friends. The narrow gate is the place in which the shepherd lays across in the night working as their protector. He doesn’t move when fear or opposition come or when wolves encroach to scatter the sheep. He stays. In the morning, He calls them by name, He guides them out, He goes before them. The good shepherd.
I love how this paints the most beautiful picture of Jesus as our Shepherd. I love how Jesus tells us that anyone or anything that tries to get to us without coming through Him, the gatekeeper, reveals himself as a thief. — Ahh! How much does that change everything? I know, for me personally, I can look back at things or experiences in my life and know that had I just paused long enough to listen to the voice of my Shepherd, I could have saved myself so much heartache, regret, time, wondering, wandering, and even shame. Because anything that comes from Jesus, must first pass through Him. Our gatekeeper. I would have stayed and invited Holy Spirit in. I would have asked, does the voice that I’m hearing (the voice that I’m about to follow) sound like that which would lead me to greater faith, greater hope, and greater love? Or does it sound like the voice of a stranger? One of temptation, fear, doubt, striving? One of never enough, always lacking, is God really that good? Do you actually trust Him? So many times I wish I would have sat in the pen a little longer. Sat and waited until I heard Jesus Himself calling me out by name.
The sheep recognize His voice because they KNOW His voice, and to know His voice, we must know Him. The more we know Him, the more we know what is NOT Him. Beloved, if what you hear leading you out or coming against you is not that of faith, hope, love, truth, life, or peace, it is not the voice of our Shepherd.
How do we know Him? We know Him by spending time with Him. The sheep walk with Him; they sleep in the same place as Him; they look to Him first thing in the morning; they hide themselves IN Him, the only One who can truly keep them. They look to Him for their every need and they follow Him wherever He leads. We know Him by remaining in Him and spending time in His presence. We know Him by reading His word. By directing our thoughts and our hearts attention and affection towards Him before anything else, inviting Him into our days, to lead us and guide us, to walk with us, to hold our hands, and to carry our hearts in His. In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus. We know Him by His voice. He calls us by name, and we follow Him.
The sheep follow Him wherever He leads and they RUN away from the voice of a stranger.
Jesus. He calls us by name. Daughter. Son. Deeply loved. Highly favored. Redeemed. Treasured. Warrior. Faithful. Beloved. But the enemy of our souls also has a name for us. It may sound something like nobody, useless, unworthy, unseen, liar, cheater, slut, coward, sinner, you name your lie __________________.
Ohh, but we are (cause sometimes you have to SAY it first even if it may not be YET) a sheep, people, who know His voice. We know which name to answer to and we run from the voice of anything but Jesus. We cannot be unnamed by Him. Let’s not be a people who are more familiar with the voice of a stranger than the voice of our Papa God! Holy Spirit, we need you. I up my expectation to hear Your voice.
Here’s the thing, and this is where I land — if He wouldn’t lead me there, I don’t want it. I know that anywhere my Jesus leads me is good for me because He is a GOOD Shepherd. So much better than I even think He is. He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters. And if He’s leading me from where I am to a new place, to new ground, then the green pastures must be greener, and the streams, even stiller… even if it’s hard, even if it’s messy, EVEN IF… I will follow Him where He leads me.
Because if He’s not there, I can’t stay. I go where He goes. I hear His voice, and follow Him.
I will follow Him where He leads me.
I will follow Him where He leads me.
I will follow Him where He leads me.
Jesus, I will follow you wherever you lead me.
My Jesus. My best friend. My love. My saving grace. My protector. My defender. My redeemer. My guide. My peace. My joy. My lifeline.
That we would be like a sheep.
And like a sheep needs a Shepherd,
I am LOST without you God.
I love the way that TPT has John 10:10 written… “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Everything in abundance, more than you expect.”
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. We invite you in to the place that we’re standing. Lost without you, desperately in need of you. While yes, this is so simple and elementary and we’ve heard it a thousand times, I pray that after today for some reason, it just sits differently… that knowing that Jesus is our shepherd goes from something that we know in our heads to something that we KNOW in our hearts. That we close out of this page having received revelation of His goodness. His kindness. His sovereignty. His all-knowing, all-purposeful, all-loving self. That we know Him as our shepherd and that from here, everything changes — Jesus knows us and we know Him. Just as our Father knows Him and He, His father’s heart. Because don’t we know? Jesus changes everything. I trust you, Jesus. I trust that you are a good Shepherd of my soul. That you know what you’re doing in me. I yield myself to Your heart, I yield myself to Your voice. Oh, Holy Spirit, that we would be a people who know and love Your voice. That don’t listen and, in fact, RUN from that of a stranger. You know what we want, but even more than that, you know what we need. Help us to discern what’s good between what’s best. That we would be Your people, who after hearing Your voice, obey, and follow You with all that we are, no hesitation. You walk with me and go before me in the darkest of valley’s and the highest of mountain tops. I know I am not alone. I trust that you are aligning my steps, going before me and hemming me in behind. I will follow you where you lead me. No if’s and’s or but’s about it, because I KNOW the goodness of your heart. Life with You — our Shepherd, what a sweet one.
Sarah Tucker is the owner of Imago Dei in Franklin, TN, where the heart behind the shop is to point people back to Jesus and serve as a reminder to everyone who visits that they are made in the image of God. She loves drinking coffee, long country drives, and spending time with her friends and family!
Follow Sarah on Instagram @sarahatucker