“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
John 21:17 ESV
I sat in my parked car just outside the donation shop for a full thirty minutes, motionless except for the tears that slid down my cheeks. My mind swirled with thoughts, and my heart quietly cried out to God.
I asked for strength.
In the back seat of my car hung my husband’s remaining clothes. They were some of the last items I still possessed that were his. I had given many articles of clothing to friends and family and had intended to give away the remaining items several times, but the task seemed just too much to act on. Hence, here I sat, praying for strength to walk in with these items.
I asked for peace.
My heart hurt knowing that these items were but another part of letting go. These are steps we eventually have to take – removing his name from accounts, making financial decisions alone, choosing to stay or not stay in our homes, deciding to work or not work. The list seems endless. And as each step is accomplished, it seems as if another small piece of my heart is shredded. Praying now for peace as I move forward to complete yet another step.
Feed My sheep.
What? I’m not sure I heard you, Lord.
Feed My sheep.
I close off the distractions. I lean my ear to hear Him. I clear my mind to understand Him. I open my heart to trust Him. These words “feed my sheep” were spoken specifically to Peter by Jesus, post-resurrection. Biblical scholars align the thrice-asked question “Peter, do you love me?” with Peter’s three time denial of Christ before His crucifixion.
Three times Christ questioned Peter. The repetition here emphasizes Jesus asking Peter if he loved Him more than anything. Christ wanted Peter’s devotion to be total commitment.
Christ follows with instruction for Peter to “feed my sheep”. This commission to Peter restores him to his apostleship (after his denial of Christ). Christ is trusting Peter with His most valuable treasure on earth, His flock.
But, how does it fit into this scene I am in the midst of now? How does it apply to giving away my husband’s clothes?
Feed my sheep.
Just now, in this moment I hear Him ask, “Bonnie, are you firmly grounded so that you are not blown around by every wind of change, every trial, every fear, every grief? Do you love me more than these? I want you to feed my sheep.”
Every time we sin (or in this case, doubt) as believers of Christ, we question our faith and begin to believe we may be unworthy of discipleship. How do we respond when trials and adversities come our way? Our faith can certainly weaken and crack under great tests.
Oh, sisters, this is exactly what Satan wants. But, as Jesus loved Peter, restoring him and inviting him back into fellowship, so too does He love us.
With our total devotion to Christ, we are to tend to His flock (the church) by our words and our actions. He wants our love for Him to be greater than anything so that we know nothing is more important than our love for Him and obeying His call. This is discipleship – feeding and tending His sheep. I can feed and tend to others by my actions and my words. I can “feed” others by donating items someone may need. I can “feed” others by sharing my thoughts in a post that may touch a hurting heart. I can “feed” others by being available to lend someone a helping hand. I am grateful God reminds me that my work on this earth has yet to be finished.
Even though things in my life have drastically changed, God’s covenant with me has not. I will stand firmly on this Rock as I move forward, tending to and feeding His flock.
With a renewed hope, purpose and passion, I open my car door, gather my items and enter the store.
Father, thank You for reminding me that nothing is more important than loving You. No matter what trial, fear or grief I face, I know You are with me to conquer. I pray all my widowed sisters can embrace the love You have for us. Help us to see ways we can “feed Your sheep” as we move forward in this journey. Amen
Bonnie is a mother of two awesome daughters who bless her life every day. When she’s not enjoying long walks along the Florida coastline, she is flying through the skies as a flight attendant. Life took a radical change in the spring of 2009 when her husband was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The walk through that journey was the hardest she had ever walked. How did she make it through? And how is she surviving? The answer is simple. Jesus. His love. His mercy. His grace. He carried her when she was at her lowest. And Bonnie carried Him in her heart even when she did not understand. He has been faithful in His promises – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5) Bonnie has been called by God to share her story through writing and speaking.
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