My cell phone rings. The number is not programmed into my phone so I have no idea who's calling. When I say, "Hello", the caller responds with the casual, "Hey". They are assuming I know who they are, that I know their voice but I have no earthly idea how upon a "Hey" I'm going to figure out who's calling. I begin to sweat. If I don't say something soon, I'll look like an idiot. I mumble, "How are you?", all the while wondering who in the heck "you" is. My perspiration turns into a full-on panic as seconds stretch to hours in my mind. Finally something in the conversation registers and I can deduce who is calling. Immediately after the call, I program the number into the phone while obsessing over whether they could "tell" I didn't recognize them on the phone.
Today I am reading John 10:1-23. In the section of scripture, Jesus uses the analogy of sheep and shepherd to teach about His relationship to His people. Jesus makes some beautiful statements about the sheep: He calls them by name, His sheep know His voice and He came to give his sheep a full life. I'm wondering if I can't recognize a human when they call, how will I ever recognize the voice of God? I believe there's some helpful clues in this passage.
- Admit You Don't Recognize the Voice - How much simpler would be if when I don't recognize the caller's voice, I had the humility to just say so? Then all that mind-reeling figuring would be avoided. If I am having trouble discerning Jesus' voice, I need to admit it and ask for His help.
- Commit to Calling More Often - I recognize someone's voice on the phone because of the frequency of our conversations. The little clues such as their greeting, the pitch of their voice, their accent, etc. all draw a permanent picture of their voice which I can recall easily. If I am having difficulty hearing from God, I need to commit to "calling" more often. That means spending more time in prayer just talking with Him about what's going on in my life.
- Stop Screening His Calls - If I have taken the time to enter someone's number in my phone then I permanently avoid the embarrassment of not knowing who they are. The problem is though that now I can screen their calls and just choose not to talk to them at all. I may know their name, but that doesn't mean I know anything else about them. Jesus knows me by name (Verse 3). He will never screen my calls. The question is, do I screen His? When I am awoken an hour early and know God is nudging me to roll out of bed and spend time with Him, do I take His call? When I have a difficult decision to make and I feel urged to take the path that's not logical, do I take His call?
This passage contains an often quoted verse, John 10:10. "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (or abundantly)." This morning Jesus is saying to me that He came not for me to have a sweaty, anxiety-riddled life but for one overflowing with peace and joy. Philippians 4:6-7 tell us that He pours out that peace into our hearts when we pick up the phone and call out to him in prayer. Jesus, today don't let me have even one missed call.