When I arrived at the window after a rare drive-thru coffee order, the young girl at the register turned out to be someone I knew.
“I thought I recognized that voice,” she said.
It happens so often. Apparently my family and I have a distinct sound recognized by our community as “Cyzick” before they even see our faces or we say our names. Sometimes people who only know one or two of us will hear another of us speak and ask if we are a Cyzick, just by our sound.
On the other hand, Siri, my iPhone voice assistant never understands me, leading to unfortunate and sometimes downright embarrassing mistexts.
There is a beautiful story in the Gospel of John in the New Testament that talks about how sheep know the voice of their shepherd. In the literal sense, a Veterinarian friend of mine who provides services in one of the most remote regions of the world has experienced this figure of speech first-hand. With every visit he is astounded that the thousands of sheep on the mountainside know the unique call/whistle/or sound of their shepherd. The calls all have similarities, but there is enough variance and the relationship with sheep and shepherd are such that when the shepherd calls, his sheep, and only his sheep from among the thousands, follow. Each flock knows their shepherd.
In this sheep/shepherd/voice recognition figure of speech in the Gospel of John, Jesus uses this example to explain how children of God know their Father’s voice. When we spend conscious time in the presence of God, reading the Bible, praying, listening, paying attention to his voice within and around us, we become more familiar with his voice.
Just like the sheep on the mountainside, there might be any number of other shepherds calling or voices clamoring for space in our hearts, heads, and lives, so it takes practice and familiarity to recognize the unique sound of the True Shepherd. The more familiar we become with the True Shepherd, the more we can discern whose voice is calling. The True Shepherd loves us and will not lead us astray.
May we all be tuned to what the True Shepherd is saying to each one of us today.