This is Hamish, our five year old Welsh Terrier/Poodle cross. We’ve had him since he was a tiny fluff ball. He’s mostly pretty obedient, he likes to keep me happy, though occasionally, the Terrier red mist decends, and he becomes a law unto himself.
The other day, we were out together in Calderstones Park when confusion struck. We met another dog going by the same name. Hamish greeted the dog’s owner like a long lost friend, though he’d never met her before, just because she called out his name. Hamish, mark II, was a cocker spaniel who seemed to need a lot more ‘managing’ than my Hamish! His name was frequently called, and my Hamish was utterly bemused by the whole situation. The spaniel owner and I stopped to chat for a few minutes, congratulating each other on choosing such an excellent name for our dogs, and my Hamish tried to figure out what he was supposed to be doing as she called repeatedly to her somewhat energetic dog.
We said goodbye and began to move in opposite directions. Poor Hamish had no idea what to do as the other dog continued to need ‘calling’. I turned back towards him and called out his name for the first time in the interaction. Immediately, his confusion lifted and he focussed on where I was. Putting on a burst of speed, he closed the gap between us. As he ran towards me, the scriptures from John 10 popped into my head;
“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice” John 10:3-5
The thought of those scriptures came with a surge of joy that I am both known by, and know, my Saviour. As I walked on, I reflected on the confusion Hamish had experienced hearing his name spoken by an unfamiliar voice. The thought followed;
‘Many other voices will call your name Kerry, but don’t worry about going in the wrong direction, YOU KNOW MY VOICE, follow me’
As someone who has a tendency to fret about getting things wrong, this was a huge assurance to me! There are always ‘voices’ clamouring for our attention. Some good, some not so good. Recognising the voice of our Good Shepherd, Jesus keeps us safe and walking in His plan.
Hamish knows my voice because he has spent a lot of time with me. He’s ignored my voice and experienced the consequences (usually only being put back on the lead prematurely, before you report me to RSPCA), he’s responded to my voice and experienced the benefits. Some of those benefits haven’t felt very pleasant to him (visits to the vets!), but they have, nevertheless, been for his good.
So it is with us and Jesus. As you spend time with Him, His promise to you is that you will know His voice.