Summary: God is calling you to greatness! The Good Shepherd will lead if we listen. Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord.

The Voice of Love is Calling

Philip Keller tells a story in his book, Lessons from a Sheep Dog, about how a bedraggled collie named Lassie came into his possession. One day he happened to notice an ad in the paper that simply said: "Border collie to good owner. Currently uncontrollable and chases children and cars." So, he found the address in the city and discovered a horrible situation.

He founded a collie penned up in the backyard of a home and it was obvious the dog had been neglected. Its coat was a tangled mass full of burrs, thorns, and dirt. Additionally, it was clear that there were several generations of ticks and fleas burrowed down under this dog's fur. But the real clincher was the chain about its neck and another chain attached to its back leg.

Keller writes that he went up to the dog and it began to bark and growl and snap at him with a menace that raged in its soul. The owner informed him that the dog was two years old and had "gone wrong and was totally useless." He was told that this dog was beyond hope and help. Keller also knew that at two years of age this dog had probably learned all it could and would never be reformed. But despite that fact, he decided to take a chance on it.

He finally managed to get the dog in the back seat of his car for the long ride into the country. Periodically he would reach around and attempt to touch the dog and she would growl and snap at him. Upon arriving home, he finally managed to get the dog out and put her into the place he had fixed for her. He had built a fine kennel with clean bedding. He had a large bowl of water and a dish that had food heaped on it. But this dog ignored it all. She refused to eat, drink, or enter the kennel. Any attempts to pet her or to touch her were rejected. Any attempts to speak kindly to her were met with low growls and bared fangs.

Finally at a loss, since she was not eating or drinking, Keller decided that to keep her from wasting away, he turned her loose. Off she darted like a deer to the woods behind the house and Keller wondered if he would ever see her again. In fact, several months went by before Keller saw her again. He had almost given up on her and then one evening as he was moving some sheep from one pasture to another he looked up and saw her crouched down on rock above the pasture. She was watching intently every move of the shepherd and his flock. Her instincts were starting to kick back in, and she was being drawn in by the shepherd and the sheep.

He noticed as time passed that she would come nearer to him in the evenings as he sat in the edges of the pasture watching the sheep. When he would see her, he would flip small bits of food from his pack to her and she would slip up, take them, and then run back a safe distance away. But during her trek to get the food, Keller would speak clearly and softly to her in an attempt to win her over. Finally, as it turned out, the collie finally lost all of her fear and through the kindness and love of Keller became one of the best sheepdogs he ever had.

(From a sermon by Philip Harrelson, The Voice of the Shepherd, 8/6/2010)

Today’s scripture reading is about The Good Shepherd who loves us despite our brokenness, who can transform us into the best versions of ourselves no matter what the world has done to us:

John 10:11-18 (New International Version)

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So, when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

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