He walks ahead
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” (John 10:1-5)
Those words "he walks ahead of them" really caught my attention this morning. Jesus goes ahead of us in all aspects of life. He sets the pace, keeps us on track, watches for obstacles in our path, and shelters us from things we may not even notice that could do us harm. So many times, I think we get Jesus' position in our lives a bit out of order. It is as though we think we have this all figured out, things are running smoothly, and we just forget his place is out in front of us, not behind us or off to the side. If you have ever tried finding your way in life without him in the right place, you know just how many things 'came up' that you had no idea you would encounter!
Do you know why his position is out ahead of us? It is because he is moving us to a more 'advantageous position'. He knows our lives involve movement and he wants to ensure our movement is toward what he has planned for us. He isn't just 'out there' because he protects us - he is there because he sees what we don't and knows what we are yet to perceive. He is moving us into a more advantageous position - he leads, and we follow. To quote the Mandalorian, "This is the way." If we want more in life, we must be content to follow - for 'more' is not found by accident.
While it is important to remember his sheep recognize his voice, it is also important to realize that knowing his voice comes because we stay close enough to him to actually learn what that voice sounds like. We might spend years making phone calls to a 'pal' we have meet online, getting to know them by what they share in these conversations. Does that mean we will recognize them when they come off a plane at the airport? Not unless they speak to us! When we hear that all too familiar voice, we 'know' it is them. All the people wearing similar colors as our pal said he would wear that day only serve to confuse us, until we hear that voice.
Get to know the voice of Jesus and you will not be led astray by other voices. The one who seeks the more advantageous position in life learns his voice and is watching for his movements so they can stay right there with him out ahead, leading and preparing the way for them. Just sayin!