Today’s Scripture Selection: John 10:4

“When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

Over the years I have heard a number of people argue over what this passage means.

For some, the key part is “When he has brought out all his own…” and they proceed to argue over what “all his own,” means.

It’s a focus on being in or out; accepted or rejected.

But the part of the passage that really grabs my attention is “his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

I am not holy enough or smart enough or bold enough to speak with great conviction about who God accepts or rejects.  If pushed, I am more likely to speak of such matters in terms of how, I believe, God never rejects us – we simply reject God.  But that can all get very sticky.

I am far more comfortable focusing on the beautiful image of Christ as the Good Shepherd calling out to his beloved sheep – and how wonderful it is if and when they hear his voice calling.

How exactly does that happen?  Who hears His voice in the right way, in the right time?  Are there some who are closer to hearing his voice than others?  Is there a time when you are so far away from God it is impossible to hear God’s voice?

I suppose I could join in the debates regularly held on these matters.

But I would rather leave it as this:

I believe God loves us more deeply than we can fully imagine.

I believe God sorrows when even one of his beloved sheep is “lost.”

I believe Christ not only called out at a specific point in the past but that he continues to call out as the “Good Shepherd” today.

And I believe there is nothing more wonderful and life giving than when one of his sheep answers and follows.

Exactly how and when that happens and why – well, that’s getting too deep for me to say exactly.

But I know it happens – and I know heaven rejoices – when it does.

Prayer: Lord, may my heart and soul and mind always be attuned to hearing – and responding – to your loving call.  AMEN.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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