A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”… The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy… He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. John 10: 5,10, 12-13
When my middle daughter was younger, she went through a phase where she’d pick on my wife. It was all in good fun, but my wife, when tickled, would become incredibly weak from all her giggling. She’d say “911” in her weakened state and, no matter where I was in the house, or what I was doing, I’d hear it. I’d dash into the room, lift Rebecca into the air and “tickle attack” her. More than likely, that’s what she wanted, but my wife was the instrument to cause it to happen. The point is, I could hear my wife’s voice over all the mayhem in our house, no matter her volume.
Just like I clearly heard my wife’s voice, it can be the same way with God’s voice. Perhaps many of us experience this with our relationship with God. There are so many voices that joust for our attention in our spiritual and physical worlds. Over time, just like the sheep, we learn what voices have merit and truth, and those which bring fear and distraction from what our good Shepherd has for us. This can be a painful process, learning the good from the bad. But the journey through it can be so full of joy!
We’ve read that God’s voice will match his character in the scriptures. The only way to truly know his character is to read the Bible. Community is also a wonderful way to learn discernment, but it takes transparency and trust, which only happens with time and relationship. This is certain about God: fear isn’t the message because his perfect love for us dispels fear (1 John 4:18a). Fear is from the evil one, and is harmful. Perhaps, to help in discerning good from bad, read the passage below and begin to filter messages you hear by what’s listed, keeping in mind “the God of peace will be with you.”
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. — Philippians 4:8-9
By Rich Obrecht