by Marilyn Bay
In May of each year, I let my flock out to pasture for the first time. It is always mass confusion, as lambs lose their mothers and then are reunited. If I lived within earshot of a neighbor, animal control would undoubtedly be called because of the loud baahing of the ewes intended to bring the lambs to their sides. Even louder is the high-pitched bleating of the panicked lambs, who until this day have lived in a small pen with mama never more than 100 feet away. Remarkably, when the sun is low in the sky and it is time to call the flock back to the pen for the night, the ewes run back, their lambs flanking them.
Because sheep hear well and are highly sensitive to danger, they can be taught to come in from the pasture when their shepherd calls. My ewes have a very keen ear for my voice, but teaching them is a process that starts when they are lambs. First the lambs learn to come back in with their mothers. When they are weaned and turned out to pasture by themselves, I make sure to put some nice, leafy alfalfa hay in their feeders just before I call them into the pen. They soon learn that good things await when they respond to my voice. Once they are mature ewes, they rarely fail to come running when I call.
After decades of sheep farming, I’ve learned that much like sheep learning to hear my voice, believers must learn to hear the voice of the Great Shepherd. Like my sheep, I am learning that when I heed the call of my Shepherd, good things await me. I’ve also learned that when I respond to His call, the easier it to hear Him the next time.
The other thing about shepherding is that sheep will only respond to their own shepherd’s voice. As Christians, we must learn to hear our Savior’s voice and not confuse it with other voices. These other voices may seem the same, but they are not.
Not long ago, my sister was at my house, and when it was time to do evening chores, I asked her to call in my sheep. She called, just like I instructed her, but they completely ignored her. She had to get our herding dog and circle behind the flock before they made their way to the pen. As they got half way in, I called to them. Their heads shot up, and they high-tailed it to the gate.
There is probably no one whose voice sounds more like mine than my sister’s, yet the sheep could tell the difference. They ignored her voice but recognized mine and obeyed. The more time I spend with the Good Shepherd, the easier it is for me to hear His voice and to ignore counterfeit voices.
John 10: 3-4 and 27 (NKJV) say, To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. . . . . My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
About the author: Marilyn Bay grew up on a sheep farm and has raised lambs commercially for over two decades. She lives in rural Colorado and writes historical fiction and non-fiction, including “All We Like Sheep – Lessons from the Sheepfold,” co-authored with her mother Mildred Nelson Bay. For more truth and hope from the prairie, visit her website: www.MarilynBay.com.
Join the conversation: How have you learned to recognize the Savior’s voice?