The orange line L-train rumbled its why from downtown Chicago toward the end of the line at Midway International Airport. The ride was uneventful as the train weaved its way through the center of the city, passing by streets lined with high-rise apartments, towering office buildings, and seemingly endless storefront businesses. The train car carried only a handful of passengers, each keeping to themselves; some reading the paper or listening to music, others quietly talking, some just staring out the window.
The train came to a quick stop at Roosevelt Street. The riders paid little attention to the young mother boarding with her baby girl nestled safely in a baby backpack. The mother and child took a seat just across the aisle, the doors closed and the orange line continued on its trek toward Midway.
The young mother with her little one bound safely near her heart, tenderly patting her baby’s back as the train car rocked gently drew a picture of tranquility. At the next stop, Halsted Street, a family came aboard chattering as they took their seats across from the baby girl. The sudden stop, whoosh of the automatic doors, and noisy invasion, startled the baby. She stretched her head out from the safety of her baby pack like a turtle’s head extending from its shell. She just had to see what all the commotion was about.
As she looked about the car it was evident that she was growing uncomfortable with the world around her. It would seem that the baby girl was frightened, her little eyes wide as she pressed against her mother. Then, she suddenly changed. Bystanders would have only seen the mother’s lips move; but the little girl heard the words uttered by a loving mother and turned her head to gaze up into her mother’s eyes. Once again the baby nestled quietly into her safe place, smiling as her eyes slowly, peacefully closed. She heard her momma’s voice and all was well in her world.
Jesus knew that in a short time the train car in which His followers’ were riding, would get rowdy. He knew the uncertainty and the insecurity that they would experience. He knew how scary their world was about to become. He also knew that He would be talking to them and when He did they would know His voice, turn and gaze into His eyes, nestle close to His heart, and all would be well.
Oh! Listen! Do you hear His voice?
How do we grow to recognize a voice? It really isn’t that hard, even sheep can do it. In agricultural countries it is not unusual for shepherds to gather their flocks into a safe place for the night. These folks have found that it is quite cost-effective to share one big pen, rather than having several individual places. When the morning comes and it is time to go back to the fields, each shepherd calls out to his flock. His flock recognizes his voice and follows him. They know his voice because while they are grazing the shepherd talks and sings to them. Over time they come to know his voice.
Not to be out done by sheep, we humans come to recognize voices the same way. Back before Caller I.D., and yes there were phones back then, it was not at all unusual for people to say hello and in the first phrases know who they were talking to without a single name being exchanged. How? The two on the phone regularly talked to each other. Or, consider this one. Ever been in a park full of mothers and children? The kids are laughing and playing, their moms busy sharing stories, recipes and qualifications for the future spouses of their children. Suddenly, one child cries out, all mothers look but one jumps up. Or less dramatic, one mom stands, says goodbye to her friends and calls out, “Andrew it’s time to go.” Five Andrews look, one jumps from his swing and runs toward his beckoning mom. Regardless of the scenario, in the midst of the chatter and playtime chaos, one voice called out and one knew that voice and responded.
So, how does one grow to recognize a voice? It’s really easy; just take time to talk. The mother talks to her child, the child talks to the mother, both listen and the child’s ear becomes tuned to his mother’s voice.
There is a familiar phrase in Scripture, “And the Lord said to…” God tells Moses that He has heard the cries of His people. Adam said that he and Eve heard the sound of God in the garden. Samuel heard God calling one night responding, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.”
Question. Do you recognize the voice of God? Do you spend enough time in His Word, the Bible, to know when it is He who is speaking and not an impostor? It does take time.
Do you spend time talking to Him in a quiet place, devoid of distractions? It means you have to turn off the noise around you so you and God can talk. It means, you have to put down the paper and pick up the Bible. It means you have to stop talking and start listening. And it all starts when you become part of His flock.
Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” If I cannot hear or discern when Jesus is speaking to me, could it be an indicator? Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” If I do not hear His voice, could it mean I’m not His? Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” If I do not hear Jesus’ voice could it mean that I am just not listening? Could I be so concerned with my thoughts that I cannot hear His? Could it be?
That day on the orange L-train, a baby girl heard her mother’s voice and found quiet in the midst of chaos; she found security in the midst of loud, strange giants — she found peace.
This day…you can to. O, Listen! Do you hear His voice?