United Christian Broadcasters produce daily notes to help with reading your Bible, and kindly send some to the prisons I work in to be dished out to prisoners who would like a copy.
Today's reading is from John 10:4, where Jesus says about himself, "...his sheep follow him because they know his voice".
In Scotland, sheep wouldn't necessarily know the voice of the shepherd. We are blessed (we don't always see it as a blessing!) with abundant rain so we can fence sheep in a field and pretty well leave them to it. In the middle east, where the Bible came about, the land is dry. Shepherds literally lead their sheep to pasture and water. So the sheep there, though not here, DO know the shepherd's voice.
Some of us might argue that we don't know the voice of Jesus. But could the voice we call our conscience which urges us toward good deeds be the voice of Jesus? Could the voice we hear as we lay down to try to sleep, which convicts us of our sin be the voice of Jesus? The voice we listen for and unconsciously strain to try to hear as we admire a beautiful view is the voice of Jesus. It takes practice, but gradually the sheep (i.e. followers of Jesus) can learn to recognise the voice of Jesus (i.e. their shepherd).
The UCB notes tell this interesting wee story:
"One evening a friend visiting Peter Lord's home told him he could hear no fewer than 18 different kinds of crickets in his garden. Peter was amazed; he'd lived there for years and had never heard one. The difference was, this man was a professor of entomology and he had learned to distinguish over 200 different cricket calls with his natural ear. Imagine learning to listen to crickets! Looking back, Peter wrote, "I suddenly understood that a person must want to hear, and learn to hear, and there were many sounds I was not hearing"." and goes on to say, "Think what you've been missing all these ears because you haven't wanted or learned to hear the voice of God speaking to you... Nothing, absolutely nothing in your life is more important than learning to know God's voice when He speaks to you!"