i confess there is a certain vicious thrill in turning one’s back on ideas that would have captivated my past self. as though a proclamation of maturity, or a vehement disowning of the embarrassment of history. nowadays i just avoid everything to do with the word eros.
In John 10, Jesus said that His sheep recognize His voice, and that they will run away from a stranger, because they don’t recognize his voice. It occurs to me that the most important thing is to learn to recognize the voice of the Lord in our head, and by contrast, the voice of the enemy who would lead us astray.
First, let’s learn to recognize the voice of the enemy:
- You need to read more Bible.
- You need to go to church more often.
- You don’t pray enough.
The voice of the enemy is always about “have-to’s”, the voice of the Good Shepherd is always about the “get-to’s”. If the enemy can’t keep you from following God, he’ll try to make following God an obligation and a chore. He always makes it seem as though you aren’t qualified. You aren’t accept by God. Not yet anyway, just jump through this hoop.
Speaking of that kind of manipulation… here’s more of the enemy’s voice:
- You know that thing you’re afraid of? God gave you that spirit of fear.
- Learn to put up with things more, and forgive! Now!
- You’re not allowed to feel how you feel.
Remember that the enemy comes “disguised as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). His specialty is setting up a false sense of righteousness where you play the martyr, and put up with stuff you should not. Even worse, as you resent being everyone’s doormat, you end up resenting God for making you tolerate something He never told you to tolerate.
- Look what you did! You call yourself a Christian!
- You better get it right this time.
- Act more Christian!
This is the voice of condemnation, and there is now NO condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1). Grace is unlimited, and our relationship in no way depends on us behaving well enough. You are God’s child, and just as no child of yours could ever make you stop loving them because of the way they act, so much more does a perfect God love you despite ANYTHING you do.
So let’s look at what God’s voice sounds like, so we can learn to follow our Shepherd:
- Don’t cheat yourself, hear my words of comfort in prayer.
- When you’re lost, guides will appear.
- I’m gentle and humble of heart.
- You have nothing to fear. I will never leave you.
- Take heart, be courageous, be bold.
- You are a world changer.
- I know exactly how you feel, and I don’t blame you.
- Even so, let me lead you out of this anger and bitterness.
- Look at what you’ve done, you are so much better than that!
- I want the best for you, and you’d settle for so much less.
- You don’t have to earn my love, it’s always there.
- Don’t be anxious or fearful, that’s not who you are.
- Be still. I’ve got this. Breathe.
- Let me just hold you awhile, okay?
- I know it’s all a big mess, I can handle it.
- Just give me you, as you are, that’s all I want.