Good shepherds lead their sheep to good places. They are careful about which paths they lead their sheep down – for the paths could lead to anything from green pastures and still, pure water, to serpents nests and wolf dens. It is imperative that the shepherd knows what path he is leading his sheep down. His reputation, as a shepherd, is on the line. He takes his role very seriously and wants to lead his flock in the right way.
In order to be led to good places, sheep need to hear and listen to their shepherds. Good sheep know and respond to the voice of their shepherds. A sheep from one flock won’t hear/respond to a shepherd that doesn’t belong to her.
As we are the sheep of the Good Shepherd, it is vital that we learn to recognize, hear, and respond to His voice. He knows what every path leads to. He has perfect vision. He wants to lead us in paths of righteousness. He knows that that’s where happiness is found and He loves His sheep.
In 2011 I heard a personal story (from the woman herself) that really impacted me and has stuck with me all these years. I’d like to share it quickly here…
Evangelina was raised Jewish. And as such, her family didn’t believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. They were still waiting for the Messiah to come. She grew up in the country and didn’t have much interaction with other people, outside of her family, when she was really young.
As a child, she was taught the scriptures (the Torah). As Jewish custom, she was taught Shema – to really hear, listen, and pay attention.
When she was 6 years old, she went to school and there was exposed to kids of other faiths for the first time. When the end of the calendar year was approaching, the other children started talking about Christmas. She had never heard of Christmas so she asked what it was and they told her about celebrating when Jesus Christ was born.
When she heard this, she was very excited and said “The Messiah has come!” She couldn’t wait for the school day to be over so she could go home and tell everyone the good news.
When she got home, later that day, she ran up to her house saying “The Messiah has come!”…Her parents weren’t very happy about this and had to explain the difference between Christianity and Judaism. They tried to convince her that the Messiah hadn’t actually come yet – despite what her friends had said.
She dropped the topic, but always kept this feeling in her heart that what her friends said was true.
As she grew up, she began to search for this Jesus Christ – the Messiah – without her parents’ knowledge.
When she was in her early 20’s, she was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was given a copy of The Book of Mormon. When she read The Book of Mormon, she knew that it was true. She knew that it was true because she recognized the voice in the book – it was the same voice that she had been taught to hear (really hear… Shema kind of hear) throughout her life.
She recognized that the God of the Old Testament (or Torah) was the same God of the Book of Mormon. Her mother hadn’t realized that when she was teaching Evangelina Shema (to really hear) while reading the Torah, that she was teaching her to hear that same voice and be able to recognize it in other places as well – in this case, The Book of Mormon.
I love this story. I love Evangelina’s example of learning to really recognize the voice of Jesus Christ. It takes work. But it is vital and worth it. I believe that this is one of the main reasons for the importance of reading scripture every day. We need to immerse ourselves in the voice of Jesus Christ so that when we are living our day to day life, we will be able to recognize His voice and we will respond to Him because we know Him as our Good Shepherd. He will lead us in the paths of righteousness.