The voice of the shepherd

John 10

The Shepherd and His Flock

1″I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.

7Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

There is a wonderful little book, “Hinds Feet on High Places,” by Hannah Hurnard.  “Hinds Feet” is an allegory that takes us on a spiritual journey from the Valley of Humiliation to the High Places.  It is the story of Much Afraid, who was a part of the Fearing family, and who, because of disfigurement and lameness, believed she would never get out of the Valley of Humiliation.  She longed to be with the Good Shepherd and travel to the High Places, but she did not think it possible.

Finally, the Good Shepherd plants the thorn of love in her heart, and the pulsating pain drives her to go with the Shepherd on a perilous journey to the High Places, where only perfect love dwells.  The Shepherd assigns Sorrow and Suffering to accompany Much Afraid, and finally, after many pitfalls, Much Afraid reaches the High Places where she has been transformed and given a new name, Grace and Glory.

I love these scriptures that speak of the sheep knowing the voice of the shepherd.  Sheep are totally dependent upon their shepherd for their sustenance.  Another great book that reveals this special relationship is “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by Philip Keller.  Studying this book will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation of both these scriptures found in John, and Psalm 23.

It is vital that we learn to recognize the Shepherd’s voice, and the only way we can learn  someone’s voice is to spend time with Him.  John 10:10 is a verse of assurance:  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full, or as some translations read, …have it abundantly.  If the thief can steal your joy, kill your enthusiasm, and destroy your witness then he has not only ruined your life, he has ruined other lives that you have or will touch.  Do not let the thief in.

Have you spent too much of your life following the wrong voices?  Are you ready to have abundant living?  Then run to Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and commit to making the journey with him from the Valley to the High Places.  You will never be alone or afraid again, if you will place your trust in Him.

After reading “Hind’s Feet on High Places”, I wrote a poem called “Developing Hind’s Feet” and I am posting it here.  It is about a journey I took more than twenty years ago, and I am so thankful the Good Shepherd was right there with me, leading me and guiding me.

Developing Hind’s Feet

I have been to the valley, so deep and so low
I thought I would never survive;
It seemed every problem and every foe,
Joined forces to bury me alive.

I stayed in the valley, longer than needed,
And my time there was not well spent.
I moaned and I groaned about my lot in life,
And when I left it was without a hint

As to why I was sent there, or allowed to be there,
According to God’s sovereign plan.
Had I gotten too big, when I should have stayed small,
Was I unconcerned for my fellow man?

Or was it planned by the enemy to drive me to ruin,
Thinking I would just give in?
Did he think the humiliation and pain in my heart
Would really turn me towards him?

Did he think I would forget the mercy of God
Brought down by Jesus to man?
And how He had shed that mercy on me
Even though I had sinned against Him.

No, I could not forget, so I began my climb
Out of that valley so low.
It was a treacherous journey full of twists and turns
If I fell, there were only jagged rocks below.

I often stumbled but I never fell
For I was led by God’s own hand.
He gently lifted me over the rough places
As I became conformed to the shape of His hand.

And with the high praises of God in my mouth
My problems and foes were defeated.
He had given me hind’s feet to reach the high places
My journey was almost completed.

I reached the high mountain, and looked down at the valley
And saw what was there all the time.
A cross spans the distance and etched in that cross
Are stairs to make easy the climb.

From the valley it’s hidden, obscured by our woes,
It is only by Faith we can see.
But when we grab hold of that wonderful truth,
From satan’s clutches we are finally free.

So I thank God for my valleys for they lead to the Cross,
And at the foot of the Cross Jesus meets me.
I give him each burden, He gives me His grace,
So that nothing can ever defeat me.

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