“But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
John 10:5 (NIV)
Those of you who have lived around Tulsa for some time will likely remember John F. Lawhon and the commercials for his furniture stores. His sonorous voice all but ordered the viewer to come and buy something NOW. If you didn’t come NOW, you would miss out and regret it. He had a truckload of puce ottomans which he purchased at a deep discount, he wanted to pass along the savings and he was letting you know that they wouldn’t last long. You have to come NOW or you’ll miss it and your chance is gone for good and you can kiss that ottoman goodbye.
Last Sunday in the Lectionary was Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus informs us that he is the Good Shepherd. The sheep know his voice and follow him. There are also other so-called shepherds, but the sheep will not follow them. There will also be hired hands that tend sheep, but at the first sign of trouble, they bail out and run. They have nothing invested in the flock other than a paycheck. Jesus, as God incarnate, is completely invested.
A teacher I had years ago related an experience while traveling in Israel. The tour bus he was on pulled aside to allow a flock to pass by on a narrow road. What caught his eye was the flock was being driven from behind. He thought to himself, “Great! All those sermons about the flock being lead and not driven just went down the drain. He remarked something to that effect to the tour guide. The tour guild looked out the window and said rather dryly, “That’s not the shepherd; that’s the butcher.”
John F. Lawhon’s gift was convincing us that urgency of the moment was equal to our need. We get spooked into thinking that we need to act NOW, but lose sight to ask, “Do I need to act at all?” I know nothing of the man’s character, but don’t forget, he was on TV to get you to come to his store and buy something NOW. If your interests were considered, it was secondary at best.
The pace of life is harried for most of us. We find ourselves being driven by rapidly changing circumstances. Try to build a defense against the harriers barking at our heels, driving us to their ends. Ask yourself this “Is really important or just urgent?” Abide in Christ. Learn his voice. Follow him. Don’t confuse urgency with importance and you will find yourself less driven and more at peace.