The college where I train Early Childhood teachers is housed at KIS, a pre-primary Montessori school. Last week I was at the entrance during “home time,” when nearly 200 children sit on benches waiting for a parent to come pick them up. Of course each parent has to be cleared before he or she can enter. Then as soon as the parent comes in and calls out his or her child’s name from the inside barrier gate, their ‘own’ comes running excitedly. Obviously, each child recognizes his or her parent without question, and each child knows his or her parent’s voice.
This busy scene reminds me of Jesus’ story of a shepherd in John chapter ten. In the picture as described, sheep belonging to many shepherds are together in one holding pen. The watchman opens the gate for a genuine shepherd. When that shepherd calls, his sheep follow him out. When the next shepherd comes, he also calls and the sheep that belong to him also follow.
The point here is that as children — sheep — of our father God, we are exhorted to know His voice. We are also exhorted not to follow after a different voice. The shepherd’s call should be both recognized and distinguished.
Certainly many voices call to us. Our own desires call out, wanting us to follow. The systems of this world call us. The lusts of the flesh call us. Our own selfish desires and our own human ideas speak loudly. They also want our attention.
At KIS, we have never had a problem of a child going to the ‘wrong’ parent. Children definitely know their father and his voice. And like a child, amidst all the beckoning voices, I never want to follow the ‘wrong’ one. My heart longs to recognize and more clearly distinguish my Father’s voice, and follow Him alone.