Listening to Jesus

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

As I was traveling alone a few years ago I stopped at a Cracker Barrel in Tennessee for an evening breakfast. To pass the time while waiting for food I like to watch other people and try to guess where they are from, or where they are going. I watched an elderly man full of smiles talking to a little girl about 10 at the table next to me. I guessed they were on a special outing together and the Cracker Barrel was her chosen meal to end the day. When she got up and left for a few minutes I decided to test my theory.

“Is she your granddaughter?” I asked. He said yes, and to my satisfaction said they had spent the day together, a habit he indulges once a year for each grandchild. I made a mental note for my future granddaddy days and asked what they had been up to. He told me a fascinating story.

His granddaughter loved horses, and he had heard about a special event in a county north of where we were that she would enjoy. In great and very interesting detail he explained that a horse trainer would come to a ranch. He would take six untrained, unbroken horses provided by local owners. I don’t recall the exact timing, but in a very short time he would have these horses following his commands. They trusted him completely, lying down with him, allowing him to ride, and in the end, he walked away and they followed him. Again, they had never been trained, broken, or “gentled.” The granddad explained the trainer did this all without a whip, or sugar cubes, or any form of reward or threat.

He had my attention. How did the trainer do it?  Talking. Whispering actually. Horses are natural herd animals, and they look for a leader. The trainer, even though a stranger, first convinces the horses that he is one of them. They accept him. Then he convinces them he is the leader. Because of their trust they follow him and do whatever he asks.

What a perfect analogy for us. Realize it or not, people are pack animals. We tend to follow one another. The illusion of independence is like the illusion of control, both are illusions. We all follow something or somebody.

So we listen to a lot of voices today. Some are telling us that our financial situation is bad and getting worse. Others tell us that we are politically imperiled, and it’s getting worse. Still others tell us that we should be very concerned and afraid for the present is shaky and the future appears to be doomed.

I do not know if any of these voices are right, though I suspect they are not completely so. What I do know without a doubt is that there is another voice that calls to us over the din of all the others. It is Jesus’ voice. Do you hear Him? He convinces us that He knows what it is like to live as we live. He tries to convince us that we can trust Him.

Listen to Him. He tells you that He created you for joy. He says that you should not have a troubled or fearful heart. He reminds you that God has taken care of every bird in the air and provided for every flower in the field and so He will take care of you. He is saying that you are a citizen of His kingdom, and that though you are in the world, you are not to be of the world.

As I have read the scripture, especially for the last year or so, this is the message that keeps coming through to me. I need to listen more to God’s voice than any other. I commend this strategy to you.

In very practical terms make sure that you are listening to Jesus, through His word throughout the Scripture, more than you are listening to Lou Dobbs or Neil Cavuto or Rush Limbaugh. May God bless and multiply each one of them, and they certainly have their place and function in our lives, but listen more intently to God through  Isaiah and Jeremiah and Matthew and John and Paul, etc. Do you see the point? A great many Christians are so concerned to be “up on the issues of the day” that they forget to hear the eternal words that God speaks through His Word. This creates a dissonance and disruption in our lives, that leads to anxiety and perhaps worse.

So remember, Jesus is calling to you today. Take time to listen.


Dr. Terry Ellis

July 2, 2011