February 1

February 1, 2021
By: Gabriel Tseng
Knowing and abiding

When he puts all his own sheep outside, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. However, a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” –John 10:4-5

I’ve had many friends, but the phenomenon that is Facebook has recently suggested friend that I might know are a little suspect. They are friends of friends whom I may have met once or twice in passing, but have not “known” in any substantial way. They want to be friends, but what does friendship even mean when I’ve met them once or twice? I can have various acquaintances, but friends, I wonder if I have as many. 

When Jesus speaks about His sheep, he mentions that they follow him. Like dogs looking for food or for a walk, they will hound you because they know you in this way. Knowing the voice is brought to terms with the idea of believing, trusting, and obeying. Amazing terms all wrapped up into one. When the sheep know the voice of the Great Shepherd, they follow, trust, and listen to where He is leading and guiding. The sheep trust Him that He has their best intentions in mind, and even in difficult circumstances, clinging to small moments of feeding, guiding, and walking that have combined to form a bond of trust that is strong. 

I still often hear the words of wise words spoken to me. Many of those words came from my mom, not in moments of grand wisdom, but words that have over time slowly baked into my heart and my mind. Some of those words are hard and cutting, yet over time, I still hear those words as she was one who took care of, fed me, chided me, and held me often. To be fair, some of her words have been scarring and have affected me in some unforeseen ways, but even to this day, some of her wisdom has shaped me to be who I am. I’ll tell you one. It is to slow down. I’ve been impuslive as a child and I’ve broken enough bones and skinned enough knees to be quite adept at avoiding trouble, but also to have listened to slow down. I remember a moment where I snowboarded and went off the trail as any adventurous young buck full of courage and stupidity. It was a hilarious scene as I did well to avoid many a tree until I ran into one, bruising my leg and having the newly fallen snow on the tree come tumbling down on me. I distinctly remember the voice running through my head that said, “Slow down or you’re going to hurt yourself.” I could only chuckle as I writhed in pain in that moment. 

Knowing the Lord’s voice is much like that. Built on a foundation of trust over many seasons of light and dark, I learned to trust the voice of my mother. So much so, that it was as if I gained another voice in my head when decisions were being made. I long to “know” the Good Shepherd’s voice in much the same way as I know my mum’s. I’m even doing this now, as I hear my wife’s voice living in my head. As the Shepherd spent time, the sheep would relate, would smell, would touch the the nuances of this relationship. With each wolf He would drive away, the sheep would draw closer and listen more keenly, and even become more trusting of the Shepherd’s ability. 

The listening and knowing of the Lord doesn’t come quickly. Like incubating seeds in a greenhouse before you plant them outdoors, the expert gardener allows the roots to grow strong, the leaves to grow a bit before setting it in the outside soil to brave the elements. May we recognise His voice speaking to us and His presence abiding with us as we sit with Him, walk with Him, abide in Him all the more. 

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