Noise. It’s all around us.
Daily, we hear a clamor of voices originating from outside of ourselves vying for attention. Then there are voices directing our focus within, to our own feelings, experiences, and inner voice. “Follow your heart” echoes in the cacophonic chaos. This is not a new experience– wasn’t our mother Eve deceived by followng her own desires? by listening to an unknown voice?
There is one distinct voice that should be heard. Jesus Himself taught about listening to voices. An extraordinary teacher, Jesus often observed ordinary objects or everyday work to use as illustrations. Since raising sheep was common, Jesus used it to explain with simple comparisons saying, “The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.”
Outrage prevails or apathy blinds, and like sheep we go astray. We listen to the discordant, exacting voices that demand more and more, news reports slice and dice sound bytes, the public outcry of outrage. The New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks wrote, “Commentators ruthlessly vilify all involved from the island of their own innocence. Everyone gets to proudly ask: ‘How could they have let this happen?’” Sometimes the dissonance is overwhelming, and we numbly distance ourselves from the uncomfortable. Like the ostrich we bury our heads because we do not want to face the evils around us or the daily dose of stress.
But, in each life, there exists a dark valley which resists being ignored.
Paul Miller writes, “Both the child and the cynic walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The cynic focuses on the darkness; the child focuses on the Shepherd.” Jesus calls each child of God by name as their Shepherd. “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life,and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.” The goodness of the Shepherd is seen in Psalm 23, but the world’s voice increasingly shouts louder excluding the Shepherd’s voice. The sheep are vulnerable and hopeless without the Shepherd. When the goodness of the Shepherd is removed from the Ps. 23, it is striking what remains: we are left alone with our perennial struggles, unmet wants and controlling fears.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, me
beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear
for you are with me;,
your rod and your staff
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You annoint my head with oil;
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will
dwell in the house of the LORD
To hear the Good Shepherd’s voice is to be known and loved. It is to do life with Life. The Good Shepherds speaks safety and assurance overcoming the loud noise of the world, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me[ are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them.
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy.
I have come
so that they may have life
and have it in abundance.
“The Shepherd and the Lambs,” Project Gutenberg’s Mother Stories from the New Testament, by Anonymous.