John 10:14-18 – I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. (NIV)
My most wonderful memories of childhood are the years I spent on my grandparents' farm in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, Canada. Grandpa had a team of oxen, which he called "The Children". Wherever they were, all he had to do was call, and they came running. They would follow him anywhere, and would do whatever he asked — whether it was pulling a heavy load of logs out of the woods, pulling the plough, or putting up with the granddaughter sitting on their backs.
Now these same oxen, the gentle creatures that Grandpa loved and that loved him, were known to my grandmother — and anyone else who had to try to work with them — as not so gentle or obedient. Whenever anyone other than Grandpa called, the oxen simply ignored them. They would not move an inch; they refused to do anything. Yet when they heard Grandpa's voice, they joyfully ran to him, ready and willing to do whatever he asked.
Whenever I hear the story that Jesus tells of the Shepherd, I see Grandpa's oxen running up the field at the sound of his voice, and I am reminded that, as Christians, we must listen for the voice of Jesus, and come running, ready and willing to do the work He has ready for us. For we can trust not only that He will look out for us, but also that anything He asks us to do will be possible with His help. We know Him, we know His voice, and He knows us.
Prayer: Good Shepherd, help us to listen in our noisy world for Your voice. We know You are calling, and we want to answer. Help us to accept willingly and joyfully the work that You have for us to do in this world. We are blessed that You know our names, and that You call us close to You. Amen.