“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me.” John 10:27 (NASB)
If you spend any length of time with me, you will discover I am a critter person. I love animals. I appreciate God’s creation and take delight in them. I have discovered that sometimes, they can learn a few tricks from me and other times, I can learn a few tricks from them. We have a cat that lives with us and she brings a great deal of enjoyment to our lives. Now I could go on forever about my cat but not today. Despite the title, I really don’t want to dwell on ducks either. But for this moment, I want to talk about geese with a side of sheep.
There is a small pond just outside our backyard. It’s not good for fishing, but it does play host to turtles, herons, ducks and geese. I pay particular attention to these animals during the spring, because that’s when we start to see the babies. Who can resist a small feathery yellow gosling or baby duck? I can’t!
Earlier this year, one of our Canadian geese couples hatched seven babies. We missed seeing them as tiny chicks but have watched them grow from toddlers to full grown geese. During their progression into adulthood, I took up feeding them. My husband groans every time I do this. Apparently, geese can be messy.
Often, I’d walk down to the water and toss out bits of bread. After time, this evolved from riverbank rendezvous’ to backyard BBQ’s with various assortments of whole grain breads and buns. Not only did the place of feeding change, so did the method. I went from tossing them bits on the ground to hand feeding. Currently, all but one of the nine geese (including mom and dad) will take food directly from my hand. They’ve even permitted some light petting. Did you know that geese have very soft necks? Each one has its own personality. One goose is very shy, coming right up to me but refusing food from my hand. Three geese exhibit gentleness in plucking food from my fingers but the other rascals can get a bit aggressive. I’ve gotten first-hand experience in “to bite the hand that feeds you.”
After snack-time ends, the mob usually follows me back onto the porch and stares longingly as I enter the house. I am convinced that if I left the door open, they’d come in and make themselves at home! Before you ask, no I don’t let them in.
We love having them as regular visitors to our home especially when they stare into my office window. It’s hysterical to see them waddle onto the patio and peck on the sliding glass door. However in June, sometime unexpected happened. We were gone for almost the entire month. When I got home, I wondered if “my babies” would still come around. Would they still recognize me? Would I recognize them? Soon, I got my answer. When they finally made an appearance, I discovered all signs of childhood had disappeared. I couldn’t tell the parents from the offspring.
However, one thing had not changed. Every time I stepped onto the patio with bread, they would all come running. If I saw them before they saw me, I could call out to them and again they would all come running. At this point, if any other tag-along goose came to receive a morsel, it would be chased away with great fanfare. Apparently, I was private stock for the original nine only.
One morning last week, I was watching television when I spotted a group of geese in the back yard. I hopped up and armed myself with a few slices of bread and jumped onto the back porch. My babies had come a calling! But to my amazement, the geese didn’t run to me. I thought, “What’s up with this?” I called out to them and all I got was a blank stare.
As I counted the bobbling black heads and came up short, I quickly concluded these were not my geese. They looked like them, but they didn’t act like them and while they heard my voice, there wasn’t a glimmer of recognition. As I returned back into the house, I had no followers.
Like my geese, there a large number of people who profess a belief in Christ. Sometimes they all look alike and sound alike. It’s hard to spot the real deal from the imposters. Why become an imposter for the Almighty? The reasons are many. Misinformed. Misguided. Malice in disguise. Looks and actions can make someone appear credible. But even if it doesn’t happen right away – the quacking will give them away. That is why it is so important to be in tune with the voice of the Master. “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know his voice.” (John10:5)
Last night, I was at a venue where a small devotion was given. My heart cringed as I heard a few threads of truth woven into something not recognizable as Truth. Without a doubt the speaker’s theology was out of the ball park. How can I be certain in my determination? It is only because I know the voice of my Master and a stranger’s voice I cannot follow. Now please don’t think I am trying to sound infallible and holier-than-thou, I am not. I’ve made my share of misinterpretations before. Hey, I thought the geese this morning were mine!
But I pray that every mistake I make only further hones my ability to see and hear what is real, and more easily recognize the counterfeit.
May God bless you with discernment this week and when you hear the right voice, the True voice – FOLLOW HIM!
It’s no game of duck, duck, goose, when the sheep hear the voice of truth!