August 2, 2011
Whose Voice Do You Hear?
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27, NIV).
Friend To Friend
Dan and I had been married one year when we moved to Fort Worth, Texas, so Dan could attend seminary. I desperately wanted a teaching job, but none was available. Instead I was hired as a secretary in an insurance office. It was definitely not my idea of a dream job, but I had a plan. Every day, on my lunch hour, I call the school district’s personnel office to ask, “Do you have a job or me yet?” After several weeks, a frustrated voice finally responded with the words I had been longing to hear. “Mary, will you teach anything anywhere?” she asked. Finally! I jumped at the job offer and made an appointment to visit my new classroom that afternoon. The principal escorted me up a flight of stairs, pointed to a door, and said, “That’s your classroom. Good luck!” With a knowing smile, he turned and walked away…quickly.
Stepping into the classroom, I froze at the astonishing sight before me. Some children were jumping on desks while others crawled under tables, all screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs. Paper and food littered the floor. In the corner sat an obviously frazzled substitute teacher, who was desperately trying to gain control of her students…uh, make that my students. The classroom was in total chaos. My first thought was, “What have I gotten myself into?” The next few weeks certainly answered that question.
Each classroom was arranged in learning centers instead of desks. The students moved from center to center as they completed assignments, a plan that naturally invited noise. I learned that because of overcrowding, each teacher had been asked to select two children to form a new classroom…my classroom…and of course, each teacher had chosen his or her two most difficult students.
The first few weeks were a nightmarish battle for control. After losing my voice twice, my sister, Betty, a veteran first grade teacher, gave me some great advice. “The louder you are, the louder the children will be. If you want to get their attention, speak softly so they will have to be quiet in order to hear your voice.” I put her advice into action the very next day. As the children entered the classroom, I greeted each one with a silent smile. In my hands was a brightly wrapped box. Curious, they asked, “What is that, Mrs. Southerland?” I merely smiled and said nothing until every student was quietly seated. “I have a new plan,” I began. “Sometime during the day, I will call your name once. If you hear my voice, you may choose one prize from our new prize box. If you don’t hear my voice, you will miss the opportunity to select a prize and I will call another student’s name.” It worked like a charm! In a matter of days, my students learned to listen for my voice above all others.
Stress comes when we allow the many voices in life to drown out the only voice that really matters, the voice of God. We can’t obey every voice we hear. If we try, we will end up in total failure, carrying a heavy load we were never created to carry. Obedience to God is not a heavy load because we don’t have to carry it alone. God’s strength and power bear the burden of our obedience to Him. The more time we spend in God’s Word and in prayer, the easier it will be to recognize His voice.
Father, I come to You today, wanting and needing to hear Your voice. I am drowning in the expectations of others and am so confused about the next step I need to take. Please give me Your direction and the strength to follow Your plan for my life.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read Psalm 32:8 (NLT) “The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” What comfort does this verse give you about God’s plan for your life as opposed to your plans or the plans of others?
Read John 10:4 (NLT) “After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice.” Notice that the shepherd walks ahead of his sheep, gently calling them to follow. What change do you need to make in your life so that you can look for God’s hand at work and listen for His voice alone?
By faith, accept the truth that God is always at work in your life and thank Him for His steadfast provision. Look back over the last few days, weeks and months of your life. Now praise Him for the things He has done. Identify the “voices” that you tend to listen to instead of listening for the voice of God.
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