“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me”
The spiritual beauty and depth of the passage above might not be obvious for a modern western mindset. But if we allow minds to flow across time and space, enter the world and cultural context of the east, we will discover that even today, there is a strange loving, living and trusting relationship between a shepherd and his sheep. The good shepherd is not hired and his relationship with the sheep is not transactional, they belong to him. He is able to recognize each individual sheep and knows them from the moment they are born. The good shepherd looks out for any danger and harm and is ready to give his own life for their protection and well-being. The sheep can’t be deceived by appearance or any other means. They know the shepherd and recognize his voice. They trust his voice and will follow it anywhere it might lead them without any hesitation, fear or doubt.
Such is the nature and fabric of our faith. God is not a symbolic heavenly superpower, but a loving presence in the events of our lives, in our thoughts, actions and relationships. He speaks to us and we have the ability to recognize his voice.