Listening and Following

Post by Chris Hartenstein
        Competing voices fill every moment of our lives, fighting for our attention, affection, and heart. Maybe it's the voice of an idea, person, or philosophy, a religion, community, or organization. Perhaps it's the voice of the opposite sex, or maybe it's the voice of a beloved professor, or boss, close family, or friends. Whatever voice we hear, it is true to our nature that we listen to and follow one or many of those voices daily. We make the decisions and take the paths they tell us to. It may seem wise, but how do we know? As sons and daughters, how can we know what voices, if any, have our best interests at heart? Our true older brother, Jesus, tells us. Let’s see what He has to say.

       In John 10:10, he makes us aware of a war raging for and against our hearts daily. He warns us that we have an enemy who desires to "steal, kill and destroy" all God has for us as his children. This enemy lurks in the dark, speaking lies into the center of the voices we hear daily, but Jesus identifies the gift our Heavenly Dad has given us to fight against his falsehoods. It is Himself, Jesus, our warrior brother, and king, who desires for us to have "life to the full." He reveals himself as the way, the truth, and the life in whom we have access to our Heavenly Dad.

        Throughout His life, Jesus shows through word and deed that He listens to and follows the voice of His Heavenly Dad. In the gospel of John, Jesus simplifies listening and following for us. By comparing us to his sheep and himself to a good shepherd, he makes it clear, "I know my sheep and my sheep know my voice and follow me." (Jn. 10:14, 27)

        The order in which he chooses to say this is beautiful. First, Jesus and our Heavenly Dad profoundly and intimately know each one of us. They know what our hearts desire and long for, the questions we wrestle with daily, and the struggles we dare not speak out loud. What is more, they do not only know but deeply care about all of those things because they deeply care for us. By His knowledge and love, he knows exactly what we need.

        Jesus then reveals His way of fighting the enemy's voices. We experience "life to the full," by listening to His voice and following His lead. We ignore the voice of the enemy and his instruction. There is nothing we can do more vital on our journeys than listening and following the voice of Jesus and our Heavenly Dad. In their goodness, they offer us exactly what we need.

        As Jesus models listening and following, it reveals what intimacy with our Heavenly Dad does for our hearts. Their relationship gave Him all He needed to live as a son and accomplish His mission; it was vital for his life. If Jesus is the ultimate example of who God created us to be, why would it not be vital for us as well?

        So, the questions for reflection remain; are we taking time to quiet all the other voices in our lives by zeroing in on our Father's voice to receive what He is offering? If not, there is no way we can ever live life to the full. Sons and daughters of an amazing and good Heavenly Dad, listen up! Give the Father your undivided attention and courageously follow His lead! He has your best interests at heart, and in Him, you will find life to the full, but you must listen and follow.

  • Do you believe you are fully loved, known, and cared for by your Heavenly Father?
  • Who do you listen to and follow?
  • Where is it leading you?
  • Does this bring life or death? Good or evil? Is it temporal or eternal? Who are you really listening to and following?

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