My brother and I grew up just four blocks from my aunt, uncle, and cousins. We played with our cousins often, sometimes near our homes and sometimes on the school playground or field which was nearby.

Tag, kick-the-can, and hide-and-go-seek were favorites. (Our neighborhoods were safe back then.) We also enjoyed tennis or baseball in the summer, by adding just a few friends, and ice-skating in the winter as the field was converted to an ice-skating rink.

“Did you hear it?” one of us would tentatively ask.

“No, what?” was often the first confident answer.

“You know, the bell. Was that it?”

Maybe we’d quiet down or maybe we’d increase the noise level in hopes we wouldn’t hear it.

“There! Was that it? I think that was it.”

“Are you sure? … Yes, now I heard it, too. … We better go.”

My aunt and uncle enjoyed collecting antiques. One was a large school-bell they hung outside their home. When dinner was ready or bedtime was near, one of them would simply pull the chain and the bell would ring loudly enough that we couldn’t deny it for long.

Shepherds ring a much smaller bell to encourage lost sheep to come back home. They watch for each one because each is precious. When concentrating on the sound, sheep can locate their shepherd and their pastureland.

Let’s get accustomed to the sound of our Shepherd’s bell so we can respond quickly if we’re far away. Just as Dave, Terry, Jane, Ann, Nancy, and I learned what their bell sounded like, we can learn how Jesus calls us back to a closer walk with Him.

Listen. Respond.

Have you hung little bell ornaments on your Christmas tree as I have on mine? Let them signify Jesus’ desire that we would remain close to Him. Also, let them remind you He’s capable of getting the attention of a wandering lamb.