Gratitude Day 615
John 21:15 – After they had breakfast, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you burn with love for me more than these?” Peter answered, “Yes, Lord! You know that I have great affection for you!” “Then take care of my lambs,” Jesus said.
Even sheep need pedicures once in a while.
Yes, the lambs need to be taken care of.
While most people were celebrating the last hours of Easter, I joined my sister’s family in taking care of the sheep. My job? Trim their hoofs.
In other words – give them pedicures.
Just like our toenails and fingernails grow and need trimming, so it is with sheep. Their hoofs need a trim job every once in a while.
After a late Easter dinner and some card games, we headed out to take care of the sheep. Like humans, some hoofs grow faster than others. Some hoofs are softer. Some are harder. Some sheep have a unique stride which mean their hoofs grow differently. All need their hooves check.
When we were just young gals, my sisters and I raised sheep. My sister Debbie has kept the sheep tradition going. After helping my Dad with the sheep for years, she took over with the hope that maybe her son Kevin would develop an interest in the sheep.
Fast forward: Kevin is WAY into sheep. Their little flock has grown. The last of their new babies were born a few weeks ago. Before the babies are weaned from their mothers, now is the perfect time to trim their hooves. We take extra care and caution to do everything for the sheep that will not hurt them but really give them the best life possible.
Because Debbie is still recovering from rotator cuff surgery, I was recruited to clip back their hooves. One at a time, each hoof got cleaned up, shortened and shaped. Some of the ewes (female sheep) were more cooperative than others. The smaller ewes are usually easier for me to handle by myself. Sometimes, my brother-in-law Keith would help hold a bigger ewe while I trimmed back her feet.
As we worked our way through their flock, I was reminded of a story that happened to the disciples a few days after Jesus’ resurrection. Confused and not quite sure what to do next. The disciples traveled back to the Sea of Galilee where they went fishing. For several of the disciples, this was their occupation before joining Jesus’ inner circle. Yearning for something normal and easy, fishing seemed like the best thing to do.
The disciples fished during the night, often their tradition. As dawn broke and the sun peaked above the horizon, the disciples are fishless. As they got closer to shore, they noticed someone tending a fire on the shoreline. He suggests they throw their nets on the opposite side of the boat than they normally fish from. When they do this, their haul is so large it could break the nets. John looks back at shore, trying to figure out who this person is. He tells Peter that it was the risen Jesus Christ! Peter was so excited to see Jesus again, he jumped out of the boat and made his way to the shoreline.
Jesus cooked the hungry disciple’s breakfast. He also knew that he needed to chat specifically with Peter. On the night of Jesus’ arrest, betrayal and trial, as predicted, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. No doubt, this denial had been working on Peter emotionally and Jesus wants Peter to know it’s really OK.
Three times, Jesus tells Peter, “Take care of my lambs.” Three times, Peter affirms with Jesus that he genuinely loves Jesus. By the third time, it seems Peter is getting a bit irritated with Jesus for having to repeatedly confirm with Jesus his feelings.
Take care of my lambs. Feed them. Care for them. Watch over them.
Trim their hooves.
Many times throughout Jesus’ ministry, he spoke of sheep and lambs and caring for them. Maybe the most powerful and often recited words of scripture refer to God as our shepherd, who goes out of God’s way to care for us in every awful and wonderful situation we will ever find ourselves in. Jesus is reminding Peter that while the shepherd may not be physically present anymore, the sheep still need tending. It’s Peter and the rest of the disciple’s job to help shepherd the flock. They still need care. Will you do it?
There are many times when we are sheep in God’s kingdom, and we need care. Comfort. We need someone to come along side of us and walk through the difficult and challenging dark valleys of life. There are also the days when we have the opportunity to shepherd someone else, who is missing Jesus in their life. They aren’t sure if and where God is, whether God is listening to their prayers and why bad things happen. These are the days when we can be the listening ear, the hand-holder, the one who do the less-than-glamour things to help care for them. Maybe it’s not literally trimming their fingernails, which is a metaphor for any of those things that we do as we care for another person’s basic needs.
Feed my sheep. Tend my flock. Care for one another.
I see people all around me who yearn for shepherding. How you do this and how I choose to share my gifts will look quite different. And this is OK! What’s most important? That we see those sheep and are willing to care for them in their need.
Easter isn’t just one day. When we call ourselves followers of Jesus, we are Easter people EVERY DAY. We see the empty tomb as a life-defining event of our lives. We turn to the shepherd for help and guidance and know there are times when we’ll have the opportunity to be a shepherd for someone else within the kingdom.
Having a flock of sheep requires daily care and tending. Some days, there is the euphoria of new baby lambs being born. Other days, it’s caring for the sick one. Still other days, it’s performing the necessary care to keep everyone healthy and safe.
Being a sheep in God’s kingdom is no different. We wake up every day with the choice: how will we serve in God’s kingdom today? Some days, we may be more active than others. And this is just fine! Some days we’re the sheep that needs extra care and then next day, we’re shepherding someone else.
Tend the flock. Feed the sheep. Trim their hooves. Let’s see how God is calling us to serve today.
For ways to be a sheep and a shepherd in God’s kingdom, I am grateful.
Dear God – Thank you for the risen Savior and how he continues to care for us, whether physically present with us or not. May we see ways that we can assist with the shepherding as well. May we also be aware of the days and times when we need a little caring for, as sheep who are hurting. Amen.
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