Today I told my counselor that when I feel overwhelmed I put on my noise-cancelling headphones, and they instantly slow me down. Not as much background noise. Not as many distractions.
We live in this strange world where you can watch a cooking show clip followed by a wedding slideshow followed by a political video followed by some panda bears rolling down a hill in a matter of seconds. We scroll, and we let that blue light fill our eyes, and the message that fills our minds is that faster and newer and more complicated is the way to go. But a few years ago, I decided to move to a slow part of the country to see if I could get some of that quiet I’d been craving.
Around these parts, there’s a whole lot of history. My house is fairly new as it was built in 1900 and only leans a little to the west. Every morning, I have to push my bed up against the wall because my movements just getting in and out of bed manages to slide it down toward the center of the room. When new people move to this area, I want to show them around so they can get oriented: “This here is the oldest bridge in the country! This here is the oldest seaport in the country! And then we turn down a long gravel road that leads to a barn at the heart of the oldest farm in America.”
The farm stands in the town of Ipswich, and when I step out of my car, it feels like coming home. Perhaps this is because it’s been consistently farmed for centuries. The idea that ground has been tilled and planted and harvested since the 1630s is hard to comprehend, but if this place is still here, perhaps the world isn’t as noisy and chaotic as I’d thought. There are places where things stay put.
One afternoon on a walk around the farmland, my friend Ana and I came across a field of sheep. There they stood with blank looks on their faces, seemingly unimpressed by our presence. They weren’t in a contained space, really, just standing on the trail. We walked right up to them and they simply stared at us. We tried to call them closer, and they didn’t budge. When we moved in closer, they backed away. Giving up on bonding with the sheep any further, we headed home when suddenly we heard something over the hill.
It was the shepherd. At least, that’s what I figured out really quickly because he shouted out, “Hey! Sheep!” from roughly 200 yards away.
Immediately, even desperately, they stiffened their necks and turned their heads toward his direction. They didn’t just look; they started to move. They began walking and eventually running toward a nearby gate — every single one of them. We stood there transfixed as they hustled their little wooly bodies toward the voice of the shepherd.
I’d read that passage of Scripture so many times that it automatically ran through my mind: “ . . . the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:4-5 ESV).
You can’t hear His voice when you’re making a whole bunch of noise. When you’ve listened to too many voices, including your own, that aren’t the right ones — even if they are good ones — you’re going to miss Jesus’ call.
Some days, it feels like God’s too far away for me to hear Him, but when I open Scripture, I remember the low and strong voice I heard that day over the hills. I remember how the sheep didn’t move toward me, but they ran toward him. And I can breathe a little easier when I take the time to listen by living a life rooted in God’s Word.
We can’t know the tone of His call if we’re not used to hearing it over and over again. So when the world feels loud and things are moving too quickly, slow down, friend. Open the Word and listen to His voice until you can hear it clearly, even from 200 yards away.Leave a Comment
Beth Williams says
I wholeheartedly agree with you. Can’t stand all the noise & lights of big city living. Would love to live more out in the country. This world is so noisy right now. Everyone crying out for our attention. It’s no wonder people can’t hear Jesus. They are busy running around looking/listening to all that stuff. Jesus says in Psalm 46:10 “Be still & know that I am God”. He is commanding us to slow down, tune out the world & just sit quietly. That is the only way we will truly hear His voice. Like sheep we know His voice & will heed it.
Michelle Stiffler says
So about this message, Melissa. Beautiful illustration. I’ll be listening to my Shepherd more today!
Ann Woleben says
Yes! ~ to everything you write here. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. It is so easy to become overwhelmed by all that is happening in our world – floods, storms, droughts, illness, fires and violence. There are days when I simply cannot watch the news. Quiet time with God is my balm. Praying daily for our world~
Loved this message. Thank you.
That was a beautiful illustration. Thank you.
Ruth Mills says
Simply beautiful & wise. You & your words!
Loved this message!! Thank you for reminding us❤
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Melissa I love what you said about the sheep. Who listened to their Shepherd when he called them. They turned round and followed his voice. Went to were they heard their Shepherd. They didn’t let any thing or anyone stand in their way of hearing their Shepherds voice. We are to do the same with our Shepherd who is Jesus. Don’t let anything get in the way of hearing his voice. As we are the sheep Jesus is our Shepherd. Like it says in “Psalm 23 verse 1. The Lord is my Shepherd”. That is so true. But Satan the Old Devil will try to make our days so busy that we are way too tired too stop spend time with the Shepherd Jesus. In Bible and Prayer reading. Listening to his still small voice talk to us through the Holy Spirit. When we are in that oneness with no detracting noise to annoy us. We have to disapline ourselves not to get so busy in our day we are too tired to hear from Jesus our Shepherd. As when we do make time. We can really hear the Shepherds voice. As he could have something wonderful to say to us. Or we might be have to be disaplined in some thing in our lives that is not good for us. By our Shepherd Jesus. To live better for Jesus. We could make a big mess in our lives if we don’t. We don’t be want that to happen. Jesus being the loving Shepherd will do anything it takes to get our attention. Especially if we are getting lost. Going down a path that is not right for us. We are lost. Like the shepherd. If one sheep is getting into trouble or lost he goes the shepherd. Looking for the lost sheep or the sheep that is in trouble. Help it out of trouble. Bring it home to safety. Jesus our Shepherd want’s to do that for us his sheep. That is us who are saved. Help us out of trouble or lost going the wrong way. So as we don’t make a big mess of our lives. So only way to be doing the right thing in life and living our lives right for Jesus the Shepherd. Is to make sure we don’t get so busy in our day. That we get tired. Then we don’t have time to spend with Jesus our Shepherd. If We don’t we will go of track. Get lost. Get we are not thinking right. Or not thinking of Jesus our Shepherd. The only way to live right and not get lost or go the wrong way. Is Jesus our Shepherd know us. Is to make sure we make time for His word and prayer. We will become better Sheep for it. With Jesus as our Shepherd. Our live will be better all round. We then will not get caught doing things we shouldn’t be doing. Just living our lives for the true Shepherd Jesus. I say Amen to this. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little
Becky Keife says
“We can’t know the tone of His call if we’re not used to hearing it over and over again. So when the world feels loud and things are moving too quickly, slow down, friend. Open the Word and listen to His voice until you can hear it clearly, even from 200 yards away.” THIS!! Yes. Thank you, Melissa.
Mary K says
Thank you fir such a beautiful sharing .
What a peaceful and serene blog post. ❤
Thank you.I am learning to listen to THE Shepherd