When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
God will never ask us to do anything which he has not already done in perfection first.
From that this is also true: once we are his we will never go any place where he has not already gone before us to prepare the way.
Although he treasures the intimacy with his sheep he is not content to keep them in the pen. Intimacy in solitude is precious. But intimacy weathered through a journey is better. It molds and strengthens and cements. It turns the ethereal into visceral. Intimacy grown through active reliance upon him produces experiential knowledge.
It is not enough to say I know about God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. The relationship calls for something more alive – I have known him, I am knowing him. I have seen him come through, I am seeing him work. I not only know the sort of words he uses, I know what they sound like coming from him.
Jesus will always be the initial pursuer, the wooer of our souls. He will be the one to come to you. But he comes with a request, now you come with me. My love has brought me to you, and you will learn to love me as you follow me.
But this is not a blind following. It’s the voice that beckons us. And it’s the voice that keeps us. It keeps us when we are terrified of where he might be leading; when we’re tempted to doubt what he has said or even when our concept of Who is leading us is exposed by His true nature – a less civil truth, a more jealous savior.
And he is good. He goes first on this road. When there is mud he is the first to get dirty. When there is danger he is the first to endure pain. When there are mountains to climb he is the one carving out the best trail to the top.
Finally, he does not leave a single sheep behind. He does not only call out the strongest or cleanest or healthiest. He calls them all: the ones with a limp, the dirty, the sick, the bruised, the scared, the lonely, and the weak. The one’s who say, I cannot do this journey. He turns to them and replies, I know. I know you can’t, but I can. And because of me, you will triumph.
He calls us out to follow his voice wherever it may lead.
By His Grace. For His Glory.