Today’s Reading: John 10:3-6 (NIV)
3 "The watchman opens the gate for Him, and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what He was telling them.
“Who left the gate open?” I could hear the frustration in the voice of my grandmother as she ran down the path from the farm house to the animal pen. Someone fed the chickens and the pigs and didn’t get the gate shut, and now it was time to look for the ones who had wandered away. What a job! I visited my grandmother almost every weekend when I was a little girl, and it didn’t take long for me to realize I was not cut out to be a farmer. Those king snakes that curled up in the chicken coop next to the eggs were more than enough to keep me far away from that animal pen. I hate to blame everything on my little sister and my crazy cousins, but they were a whole lot braver than me, and there is no way I would have left that gate open.
It was entertaining, watching my grandmother run around in her long apron and big black shoes, shaking her dish towel while making loud whooping noises, trying to coerce those carefree animals back into the pen. The pigs would come running when they saw the big bucket of slop being dumped into the feeding trough. Those guys were always hungry! They would gladly return for their next meal, then roll around in the mud together. No wonder we call them pigs! The chickens and goats were a little more persnickety. My grandmother would shout loud threats, while swinging that dish rag high in the air, as if they could understand her every word. “If you don’t get back in that pen right now, we’re having fried chicken for dinner!” Eventually, the animals would saunter back inside the gate, and she would secure it with chicken wire. Grandma was the gatekeeper. She raised five strong-willed children, and every now and then, someone would manage to escape when the gate was left open. Grandma always found a way to bring them back home.
Just like those crazy animals on the farm, Jesus' disciples couldn’t understand a word He was saying to them. He is the Father’s gatekeeper! His sheep recognize and listen closely to His voice alone. Jesus knows each precious one by name; the relationship He has with them is worth the sacrifice He made to rescue them from certain destruction. He opens the gate and leads them outside their comfort zone, knowing they will not wander away, because they trust the sound of His still, small voice. The sheep are totally in love with their Shepherd.
Have you heard the voice of Jesus calling out your name? Do you trust Him enough to step outside your box, and follow Him? When you recognize His still, small voice, do not be afraid to follow. He will never leave or forsake you. And this is Good News for a day like today!
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC -
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