Our ten-year-old daughter recently spoke on the phone to a friend whom she had not heard from for several months. We had moved this past summer, and it had been six or seven months since the girls had been seeing each other regularly. These two used to walk to and from school together each day and spent many evenings playing at the park. It could have been said by onlookers that they were basically “joined at the hip.”
Our daughter was surprised to find when she spoke to her dear friend—after a lengthy separation—that she did not even recognize her voice for a minute or two. She wondered how she could have forgotten her friend’s voice.
Knowing the Voice of the Good Shepherd—Jesus Christ
While studying the resources for April 29 to May 5 of Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families, I was touched as I read the parable of the Good Shepherd found in John 10. The following verses spoken by Jesus emphasize the importance of recognizing His voice: “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:4-5, italics added).
Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. I am known by Him and numbered in His flock as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is the one who has lain down His life for me, one of His precious sheep. He was willing to do this because of His great love for me. The same is true for each person who has ever lived on this earth.
There have been many times in my life where I have felt a real closeness to Jesus Christ, my Redeemer. During these times I have found myself easily recognizing His voice, which is felt through the power of the Holy Ghost. In these times of closeness, I have found His influence to be nearly constant, becoming very familiar. You could say that during these times I know His voice or know Him. I feel as though the bond could never be diminished. I am also grateful to watch my children learn to recognize His voice: below is a drawing my daughter made.
Failing to Know His Voice
Just as my daughter was surprised to not immediately recognize the voice of a dear friend— someone she had come to know very well—so it can be with us. These are times when we fail to hear, read, know, and follow the gospel of our once familiar Saviour. We distance ourselves from the safety and loving care of our Good Shepherd. The disconnect we once thought to be impossible becomes real. It is important to realize that the separation now felt is not due to Jesus moving away or losing interest in us. Instead, the inability to hear His voice or follow Him is our responsibility. We distance ourselves from His care.
We need to make sure that we do all that we can to stay close to the guiding counsel of Jesus Christ. As President Russell M. Nelson emphatically stated at the April 2019 general conference: “I plead with you who have distanced yourselves from the Church and with you who have not yet really sought to know that the Savior’s Church has been restored. Do the spiritual work to find out for yourselves, and please do it now. Time is running out” (“Come, Follow Me,” Ensign, May 2019).
A Great Reunion
Luckily for my daughter it only took a minute or two to know that it was her close friend who was the unknown caller. They soon began talking of things that had once been common between them and reminiscing of happy times and memories that they shared. After only a few minutes it was as if they had never been apart.
I cannot help but feel that this is the way it has been in my life. I am amazed at how quickly Christ has always re-welcomed me to His loving arms. He is constant. He is always there when I reach out to Him. He has never stopped calling my name and extending His arm of mercy towards me. As Jesus proclaimed: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14).
I have heard the Saviour’s voice speak clearly to my heart as I have listened to the inspired direction and counsel offered by living prophets and apostles: “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38).
I have felt His voice truly impact my decisions and enlarge my understanding as I have read and re-read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. It is in these precious pages where I have really come to hear and know Jesus Christ.
How I love the Good Shepherd. He gives my life hope and meaning. I know He will never lead me astray as I strive to know Him and follow His voice. He will lead me safely back home to my Father in Heaven.