You might be familiar with that scene from the end of John’s gospel, where Jesus asks Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?” The third time, it goes down like this:
Jesus asked a third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?” Peter was deeply hurt that Jesus had asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” “Lord, you know all things,” he replied. “You know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” (see John 21: 15-17)
I feel like I’m living through something similar these days, but instead of asking if I love him, Jesus keeps asking me if I trust him. I keep avoiding the question because I know he’s going to tell me to feed his sheep.
I know I’m not here on this earth to have a Jesus-and-me love fest. There is a whole flock of people that he wants someone to take care of, and that someone is me. I don’t know all the sheep I’m supposed to feed, but Jesus does, and he loves them, and he wants me to feed them.
Jesus has been working on me for a while to get out of my comfort zone and start walking the path he had laid out for me since before I was born. My life is supposed to be a showcase for God’s love and power. The Lord has provided everything I need to do this, but I’m still the one who has to do the work. And to be honest, sheep scare me.
If left to myself, I could happily spend the rest of my life sitting on my couch, reading my Bible, and sending money off to support people who are doing the real work. But the Spirit won’t let me. As an example, God has been telling me since at least 2018 that I’m supposed to write a book. Recently this leading came with a bunch of details about what’s supposed to be in it, and how to approach it, and who to collaborate with. It all seemed possible in the moment, while I was hearing from the Spirit.
But within a few hours, I was incapable of even imagining myself writing this book. All the unknowns overwhelmed me. Who do I think I am? I don’t know anything about this topic! What if I never finish it? What if people judge me? What if no one believes me? And the dream died a quick death.
Have you ever gone through something like this? I’m pretty sure it’s a fairly universal experience… God lights your fire and the devil does his darnedest to put it out. So then it’s back to me and Jesus, on the beach, early in the morning. He’s got the coals going and the fish sizzling, and he’s saying, “Jeanne, do you trust me?”
Lord, you know everything. You know I trust you. It’s myself I don’t trust. I just can’t.
Love is patient, love is kind… The next morning, Holy Spirit gets back to work on me, bringing to mind the words of our good Lord.
“You are My workmanship, created for good works, which I prepared beforehand for you to walk in.”
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
“My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.”
I don’t like being weak and dependent on someone else to help me. I’m not comfortable starting something without a solid plan of how I’ll be able to finish it. But I am learning that the place in my journey where my ability comes to a dead stop, and I’m incapable of taking another step – that’s where God shows up and does more than I could have ever asked or imagined.
A good friend told me that the book is already written in Heaven, and I just need to yield to the Spirit and let him put the words on paper in this realm, through me. That takes the pressure off! This whole thing is his idea, and I can trust him to make it happen. My worries and limitations don’t matter at all because it’s not up to me.
What about you? Who are your sheep and how does God want you to feed them?