What's for dinner tonight? This might be the quintessential question for any family. Hayleigh (11) has figured out that she can have great influence over the answer if she participates in the weekly meal planning process. I often tease that my spiritual gift is cooking. One thing is certain, you know I love you once I start cooking for you. Because Hayleigh is savvy enough to figure out that my love is closely associated with cooking, she smartly suggests her favorites, knowing my tender heart will have little ability to resist putting them on the list.
This morning my reading is the final chapter of John. Seven of the disciples had gone fishing on the Sea of Tiberias. We don't know why exactly they did so but since they're men I'm going to presume it was a combination of thinking about their stomachs and male bonding best enjoyed in silence. Scott is not a fishermen or a hunter but I've known enough guys that were to know that their enjoyment is not altered with a small or even no result of their labor. In fact, they rarely talk about what they caught or killed, unless it was truly extraordinary such as a buck with a high antler point count or a tremendous number of fish. The disciples had fished all night and caught absolutely nothing. Suddenly, a guy calls from the shore to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. They did and caught 153 fish! (John 21:1-11)
Instantaneously, John recognized the man on the shore was Jesus. After enjoying breakfast together, Jesus pulls Peter aside. Three times Jesus asks Peter, "Do you love me more than these?" Each time Peter responds affirmatively and Jesus gives Peter an instruction to shepherd His sheep. I have heard many fine sermons on the theological significance of this passage which draw parallels such as:
- Peter denied the Lord three times (See Luke 22:33-34, 54-62) and Jesus asked this question three times, therefore this passage is about redemption.
- The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three parts of the same God so Jesus asked this question three times to teach Peter that He'd have to rely on all three during the coming years, so this passage is prophetic in nature about the foundation of the early church.
Not to discount any of those fine conclusions but I've always figured it's just because Jesus knew Peter was as hard-headed as me and heard things better when they were repeatedly stated. That was until I noticed that Jesus' instruction to Peter after asking the question varied a bit each time. This morning, I hear Jesus giving those instructions loud and clear not to Peter, but to me.
- Feed my lambs (Verse 15) - Lambs are the youngest, most fragile members of any flock. In my little flock, that would have to be my sweet little babies, Clara and Carynne. How can I feed a little one who doesn't even know Jesus yet? By providing a Christ-honoring sheep pen and filling it up with words, actions and attitudes that allow them to see Jesus shepherding my heart. Feed my lambs, Shannon.
- Take care of my sheep (Verse 16) - To earn the title of sheep, someone must have passed from lamb to a more mature station in life. In my flock, that must be my middle-schooler and high-schooler. Hannah and Hayleigh are both saved and actively walking with Jesus. Jesus still asks me to take care of them by overseeing their spiritual growth, guiding them through difficult choices and leading them with an example of godliness. Take care of my sheep, Shannon.
- Feed my sheep (Verse 17) - Now my heart turns to my dear husband. While it is not my responsibility to feed him spiritually, I can give him every opportunity for spiritual growth by not being a stumbling block to him. How do I that? Choosing careful words that build up instead of tear down, showing him kindness and compassion and concentrating on my own spiritual growth instead of analyzing the gaps in his. Feed my sheep, Shannon.
I can hear Jesus whisper in my heart to remember that this little flock, isn't mine, it is His. He is the Shepherd that will guide our family. The only way for me to truly feed my family is to rely totally on Him to do it through me.
Sweet Jesus, help me be intentional about discipling my children and being spiritually encouraging to my husband. Today I will not miss the opportunity to feed my family more than just physical food. I will fill our grocery cart with conversation about You, stock our pantry with learning about You and set our table with praise and adoration for You.