About a month ago I was having dinner with a large group of friends. We were talking, laughing, and preparing for a performance that evening. Through the din in the room I heard my name and I knew instantly whose voice it was. I quickly looked around for my friend to find out what she was saying.
Was it surprising that I heard my name? No – from a young age we are all trained to hear our name when called and to respond. Was it surprising that I knew whose voice it was calling my name? No – through years of friendship and working together my ear has been trained to recognize my friend’s voice. I am tuned in to what her voice sounds like and how my name sounds when she says it.
This is not a unique experience for me. We all can hear our name called in a crowd. We all have individuals in our lives that hold importance – and so we pay close attention to the sound of their voice so we can hear and respond when called.
In John 10, Jesus tells the parable of the shepherd and his flock. The sheep know the sound of their shepherd’s voice and respond to him but not to a stranger. “The sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he brings all his sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger. They will run away from him because they don’t know his voice.” (John 10:3-5 NCV)
The sheep know their shepherd’s voice because they’ve spent time with him. They’ve listened to him guide them through fields, coax them toward water and protect them from dangerous places. They’ve been trained to recognize the shepherd’s voice. Similarly, the more time we spend with God, the more we are trained to hear His voice above the din in the world. God calls out my name. He calls out your name.
The questions we face are these: Are we spending time listening to God? What is your ear tuned to in this noisy world? Could you recognize and respond to His voice through the din?