“Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”” – John 21:16-17
This morning after dropping off the carpool, I made a quick run to the grocery store and headed to the mall to do some mall walking. Since the snow kept us in a few days this week, I’ve been eager to work my muscles again. As I climbed out of my car, a young man was peeling off hunter’s gear. Now, I’m not a hunter, so bear with me through my description. He removed the onesie looking camo coverall that keeps hunters warm, (Ha-ha! “Onesie.” Someone is not going to like that.) and as he did, he bent down to put a puppy on the ground. The adorable black lab mix began to whine, so I made a comment to the young man about how sweet his puppy was. Now the temperature was around fifteen degrees this morning, so it was cold. I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that this young man might not have gone hunting but instead may have slept in his truck last night. Immediately I prayed, “God, what do I do?”
Off I went mall walking, which amazingly enough was the same thing the young man did, with his dog. Walking in and out of the branches of the mall, I began to have a discussion with God. I felt His spirit poking at me to take action, “Kysia,” I heard. “You just went grocery shopping. You have cold cuts, oranges, Fritos and bread in your car. Remember having communion this morning with your family and the breaking of the bread. “Christ body broken for you,“ your family each said as you passed the bread around your table. Did you mean it?”
[I feel the need to explain. We don’t normally have communion in the morning. Today is Ash Wednesday and my son is headed out of town to an All State clinic, so worshiping together as a family tonight at our church is not an option. We improvised by having our own Ash Wednesday service before breakfast.]
Suddenly, I felt like Peter in the book of John, when Jesus asked him, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” “Of course, I love you, Lord,” I thought. “Then feed my sheep.”
Sharing my groceries is not that big of a deal, but I kept thinking, “What if this man isn’t living out of his truck, and he’s offended?” To which I giggled knowing if that’s the worst thing that could happen, I could imagine God saying, “Kysia, daughter of Jim and Laquita, do you love me?” To which I’d reply, “Yes, Lord. I will gladly surrender some of my groceries and pride (willing to risk making a mistake).” When I finished walking, I headed to my car, made the young man a bag from my groceries, wrote a note explaining, that I didn’t know his situation, but I wanted him to have these because if he needed them, I wanted him to know I cared (Over explaining because of my lack of comfort). I placed the groceries by the door of his truck and left heading back to the grocery store to pick up my now missing items.
There are times when the sacrifice is more difficult than groceries. Sometimes I fail, lacking the courage to do what I’ve been asked to do. Thankfully there is forgiveness and second chances. It’s in those times, I believe God uses the moment to teach and discipline me further about how he cares for me and expects me to respond to His request. They are made not only for the benefit of the person receiving, but also demonstrate faith by the giver in God’s provision. Answering a call to help someone in need is taking a step of faith towards the God of all.
In contrast, I remember when we were in Israel there was a blind beggar on the side of the road outside of the entrance to Gethsemane. Our guide told us, “Don’t give money to him. He is the richest man in the country.” Meaning he has abused the system and is wealthy enough not to beg. That seems to be the biggest fear most people have about giving to those in need. Basically asking, “What if they are taking what I worked for and using it in ways that do not benefit them?” In response, that is always possible. I don’t always know if what I’m giving up is going to be used for the way I intend it to be used. However, what if it is? Or, even if it is not, what if a seed is planted now that will lead to growth later, all because someone was kind to the person of question and took a chance on them?
I do believe there are times when I am called not to give. I do not pass out to every street corner. That would be unwise. But stopping a second to ask God if this is a call from the Holy Spirit is wise. Then if the feeling keeps nudging, the answer is probably, “Yes, Lord I love you!”