Am I on the Right Path hearing the Shepherd's Voice

Am I on the Right Path?

We often question ‘Am I on the right path’ but learning to hear the shepherd’s voice gives us an assurance to know and trust the good shepherd.

I want certainty. I like to feel secure knowing that I have made the right choices, but there is always an invitation to dwell in doubt.

I remember being in a foreign city and I had to catch a train from one station to another station from where I would catch another train.

  • What platform am I meant to be on?
  • When do I need to be there?
  • What will I do if I miss that train?
  • Perhaps my whole trip will be messed up?

Off my mind went with lots of scenarios.

I had to grab my racing wild horse thoughts and calm them down.

Do you often find yourself in that place of fear and worry? Do you think sheep have worry and fear?

Am I on the right path?

It’s interesting that in the Bible that sheep are so often are used as an example of what we are like as humans.

Read more posts about sheep

Having been raised on a sheep farm, working on sheep farms, and then doing an agriculture degree, I think I know a little about them.

Sheep like paths, regular paths that they have been on many times before. Am I on the Right Path

I remember one night we had some sheep in the yards. These were mothers and lambs.

This was a place where we brought them together to inspect them closing, to hold them for things such as inspecting their teeth and feet.

The next day, we were going to take them across a very busy road to another section of the farm.

It was a still quiet night, and we were about to go to bed, when suddenly we could hear bleating and baaing coming from across the road.

Immediately we went and discovered that the gate holding them in the yard had been opened and all the sheep had got out.

But the mothers had been across the road many times before, so that is the path they followed, even in the dark of night.

Fortunately, there was very little traffic and my father and I were able to make sure all the sheep got across the highway safely and to the paddock intended for the next day.

Those mothers knew the way. They knew the path. The younger sheep followed the mothers and somewhere in their young sheepy brains was instilled a neural logical pathway that said this is the way to go.

My Sheep know my voice

Jesus, the good shepherd, said these words.

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28

In the days of Jesus, the size of the flock was a lot smaller than the thousands my father owned. Farming practices were very different.

The shepherd would go out in front, and the sheep would follow. Perhaps they would hear the shepherd talking or possibly even singing. He may even converse one to one with them, reassuring them that they were going to be going to be ok.

The sheep would be calmed by the routine and familiar voice.

Hearing the shepherd’s voice

I need the voice of a good shepherd to lead me. Psalm 23 speaks to me with many reassurances.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
     he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long. Psalm 23 


Learning the shepherd’s voice

How do we learn to distinguish the shepherd’s voice from others?

  1. Spend time in the shepherd’s story
    Spend time reading and/or listening to the shepherd’s story – the Bible. Don’t just listen to it as an intellectual exercise, but more so, listen to the heart of a loving God to us, God’s people/ sheep.
  2. Spend time with older sheep
    Young sheep learn much from the older sheep in the flock. Spend time with those who have walked the path and learned the voice.
  3. Learn from the wanderings 
    You are going to wander off the path. Learn from these moments. We often say ‘Time will tell’ when we think about what might happen in the future from our decisions today, but what has time already told you?
  4. Slow down and be still
    Sheep don’t walk all the time. They spend time ruminating on the good things taken in. Learn the art of slowing down to listen. Give yourself permission to stop, rest and listen.

We often question ‘Am I on the right path’ but learning to hear the shepherd’s voice gives us an assurance to know and trust the good shepherd.

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Quotes to consider

  • Often times we’re looking for nice clear linear logical explanations about why we feel this compulsion and need to give efforts to something. There might not be any explanations other than something within you that says if I don’t head in this direction something within me will die. Rob Bell A Hymn For the Curve
  • It is in falling down that we learn almost everything that matters spiritually. Richard Rohr 
  • We think — wrongly — that God can only love perfect things. What a tiny and weak God that would be. Richard Rohr -Job and the Mystery of Suffering
  • Too much improvisation empties the mind in a stupid way. Running beer gathers no froth. No haste, gentlemen. Let us mingle majesty with the feast. Let us eat with meditation; let us make haste slowly. Let us not hurry. Victor Hugo Les Misérables
  • The people who are going to be most controlled by their fears are the ones who don’t admit them and deal with them. Richard Rohr -Job and the Mystery of Suffering
  • It is so difficult to admit to ourselves and others that we can’t control everything. Only when we name the ways we are powerless do we create space for God to step in. Richard Rohr
  • One has to wonder, do we really want people to grow, or do we just want to be in control of the moment? Richard Rohr

Questions to answer

  1. What reassurances does Psalm 23 speak the most to you at this moment?
  2. Who are ‘older sheep’ for you?
  3. Being still and listening takes some permission giving. What happens in you when there is an invitation to slow down and ruminate on the good things?

Formation exercise

  • Spend time ruminating on the good things about the Shepherd. Quietly listen to the shepherd in Psalm 23.

Further reading

A Church for Black Spotted Sheep

Sheep, Habits and Walking Down The Right Path

5 Ways that Jesus Helps with Thinking Ruts

Barry Pearman

Photo by Alexander Chamberlain on Unsplash


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