Ignoring the shepherd’s voice
First Baptist Church, Coeburn
The sun was warm, the sky blue, and the breeze cool. A perfect day to enjoy the outdoors. And that is precisely what I was doing on the far end of the school playground. I got away from the noise and crowd to relish some peace and quiet and to simply watch the clouds roll by. I must have gotten caught up in the beauty of the moment and lost track of time and my immediate surroundings, hypnotized by the fresh air. Turning toward where the other kids were playing an uneasy feeling came over me.
I didn’t recognize any faces among the children laughing and playing on the play ground equipment, which was odd. I quickly scanned the crowd and realized that I didn’t know these other kids. My eyes darted to where the teacher normally stood. She wasn’t there. Instead another teacher occupied that spot.
My heart beat faster as I walked back toward the crowd in a vain attempt to locate a familiar face. A few other kids noticed me and gave me quizzical looks, obviously wondering who I was just as much as I wondered who they were. I moved at a frantic pace now, desperately trying to find someone. Not recognizing anybody I surmised my teacher and the rest of the class returned to the classroom. My stomach was in my throat as I knew I’d been left behind.
How could I have been left behind? How did I miss the teacher’s ringing bell? How did I not notice the other kids lining up to return to class? The answer was painfully clear, I strayed and became distracted and now I was left behind.
I ran inside the building and found the class walking in single file to the classroom. I slipped into the rear of the line unnoticed. Nobody ever knew I was missing. Crisis averted!
John 10:27 records Jesus saying “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Jesus, our shepherd, calls his sheep by name and he leads them. But there are times that we stray from the shepherd. There are times we become distracted and aren’t listening for his voice. Suddenly we turn around and find ourselves distant from the shepherd. And we panic.
The good news is that when we stray, we don’t go unnoticed. The shepherd immediately recognizes when his sheep are straying or are distracted. And what does he do? He will leave the ninety and nine and go find that straying sheep. He will lay that sheep on his shoulders and return rejoicing.
If you’ve strayed, the shepherd is looking for you. Do you hear his voice? Will you come to him?