Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice and they know me.”

In Biblical times, the setting of this verse, several shepherds would take their sheep up to the grazing lands together. All of the sheep would graze together, while the shepherds formed a loose perimeter around them to protect them from predators. At the end of the day, the shepherds would take their own sheep to their sheepfolds. How did they separate their sheep from the rest of the flock? Each sheep was trained to come to the voice of their own shepherd. I don’t know about you, but this surprised me when I first read about it. I thought sheep were really rather stupid creatures!

Jesus is our good shepherd. Do we know His voice? Have we prepared ourselves to know when He is calling us? Guiding us? Convicting us? Reassuring us?

My children have heard me say at least a million times, “Are you listening to the voice of truth?” Why do I ask them this? Because I have learned the importance of knowing the voice of truth. My girls deal with the same insecurities as any other girls. They need to know that they are beautiful, good enough, valid… We have long made it our practice to repeat what GOD says about us. That’s the voice of truth.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I am a former pit-dweller. My heart, soul, and mind had been filled with so many lies straight from the pit, that I couldn’t have told you the truth if my life depended on it! My thoughts and belief system were so screwed up, I had no compass, no “true north.” When God started working on me, hauling me out of the pit and training my feet to not slip back into that hole, He started with my mind. It says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that “we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Our minds are the battlefields! And sometimes, they are downright bloody. What we allow to come into our minds moves down into our hearts to become our belief system. Good or bad, it all starts in the thoughts. For me it was garbage in, garbage out.

When I was a pit-dweller, I had an extremely negative and destructive mind set. My thoughts were so toxic, I’m surprised that I wasn’t letting off a green cloud! I needed to start at ground zero and learn WHO God is, and what His voice sounded like. Because of my particular background, He knew that He had to win my heart. I had never had a single healthy relationship in my entire life. Every single one, including the one I had with myself, was riddled with holes as big as those in a piece of expensive  Swiss cheese. He had to show me that He would never let me down, no matter what was going on around me.

I will never forget the first in-depth Bible study I ever did… Beth Moore’s “Beloved Disciple.” I remember sitting there reading the scripture references that she used to outline the love of the Savior that He has for each of us on a person level. It was the first time in my memory that I heard the unmistakable voice of the Shepherd speaking directly to me. My conscious mind did not recognize it, but like deep crying out to deep, my heart and soul recognized Him, and they were responding to the call of the Lover and the Creator of my life. I could hear a small, quivering, child-like voice calling back from somewhere deep inside of my own heart… “I’m here! Please come rescue me!” The deeper part of me had heard that loving voice before my soul had been sent to live in my body, before the pain of this world had drowned it out.

His Word has become an addiction to me and has brought the absolute need to hear His voice speak into every situation of my life. His truth has been renewing my mind.

If we want to learn His voice, He will teach us. He is capable of reaching down through any amount of junk we have, to reach us. He will come to us right where we are and pull us out of any type of pit we find ourselves in. His is the voice of love. He is the TRUTH who sets us free.

The voice of Love and Life. The voice of the Shepherd. That’s the voice of truth. Over the years, I have learned to be a diligent guard of the door of my mind. I know where I will end up if I allow the wrong voices to speak into my life; I’ve been there and done that. It is only the unrelenting love of my Savior and His redeeming love that has healed my soul and reset my crusty-hard heart. I have become addicted to the freedom of His love.

The movie, “Facing the Giants” is one of my favorites. There is a part of that movie that stands out to me more than any other part. When the depressed football coach, Grant, is thinking about quitting his job and walking away because it seems like he can’t win, God gives him a word. A gentleman, who comes on a regular basis to pray over the students’ lockers, tells him the story about two farmers who prayed for rain. One farmer prayed and waited for God to respond, while the other farmer prayed and went to plow his field in preparation for the rain. The gentleman asked Coach Grant, which farmer trusted God more.

I love this scene in the movie because it’s a challenge to all of us. Do we want to hear God’s voice? Do we really want to know Him and see His movement in our lives? What do we need to do to prepare for it? Are there things that are stopping our ears and hardening our hearts? Are there destructive thoughts that need to be given the boot? We have to start with taking every thought captive. If we do, He will tell us who we are. We will know our Shepherd’s voice.

Just come…

Over the next few weeks, I am going to be blogging about my utmost passion in life… Living Free. I love how Beth Moore calls herself a “former pit-dweller” because I can so completely relate!

Until I came to the place where I literally threw my hands up in the air and screamed at the sky, “Ok! If you are really who you say you are, and not what I was told you are, which is a non-loving, perfection-expecting, giant bully in the sky, than PROVE IT! I want to believe you are loving, but I don’t feel it! I want to believe that you care about me, but I don’t see it! All I see is pain. All I feel is worthlessness, depression, and anger! If you really are a loving God that even knows I exist, come prove it to me! Otherwise, leave me alone!”

I was a pit-dweller. I had always been a pit-dweller. I had lived in a pit of despair, worthlessness, voicelessness, depression, anger, self-pity, victimization, and fear as long as I could remember. I had been shoved there, and that is where I had lived and put down my roots.

Thank God, He wasn’t going to let me stay there for the rest of my life. He wanted me out! Now that I’m free and up where the air is clear, I am burning with a passion to make sure everyone I meet knows how much He LOVES them.

Do you know how much Jesus loves you? I know you may be thinking, “You know, if God loved me as much as some people say, He sure doesn’t show it very well. Look at the painful situation I am in. Do you think this is fair?”

May I tell you something? Pain is part of this fallen world. As long as we are on this earth, we are going to experience pain. It’s not about escaping pain. It’s about what we do with it. Are we going to hug it to ourselves and fixate on it? Or are we going to stand on the truth that nothing happens to a child of God that will not be used to our good and the good of others.  If we learn to hide our souls and our hearts in the shadow of His wing, the peace that passes all understanding will be like a salve to our exhausted and battered hearts and souls. Living in this world with all of its anguish and exhaustion affects us. We have to know where our help and strength comes from.

If you are tired of being tough…independent. If you are at the end of your strength, will you come find out who Jesus truly is? I know from experience that He is capable of doing whatever needs to be done to gain your trust. I promise you, if you seek Him, He will be found. In fact, He is waiting for you to come just as you are. No need to clean up. No need to try hiding anything. He already knows, and He’s waiting.