Feed My Lambs
Our pastor just finished preaching through the book of John. I love the end of the book – chapter 21 – when Jesus meets His disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He gently restores Peter by reaffirming his call three times – the same number of times which Peter had denied Jesus during the crucifixion. Jesus states His mission for Peter – “feed my lambs” one time, and “feed my sheep” twice.
We know that Jesus was calling Peter to be a leading force in the newly formed New Testament church. The reference to lambs likely refers to new believers. Jesus wanted Peter to gently care for those who were new in the faith. “Sheep” could refer to more mature believers.
As my pastor was preaching through these verses he mentioned how lambs have to be fed more often. Sometimes the shepherd might have to get up in the night to care for these vulnerable little ones. On a recent missionary deputation trip we stayed with a family who has a hobby goat farm. One of the goats died giving birth to twin kids. The family members alternated who got up every four hours during the night to give the goats a bottle of milk.
My mind wandered to mothers of newborns and young babies. We get up in the night to meet the physical needs of our children by nursing them or giving them a bottle. We comfort them when they are sick, hold them when they are teething, and soothe them after a bad dream. We don’t tell them to feed themselves or to go back to sleep – we deal gently with them, even though we are weary.
Though there could be many applications from this passage, one was important to me, and I have meditated on it many times over the last couple of weeks. As mothers, we have an important role to take care of the physical needs of our young children. Sometimes we feel alone, home-bound, weary, lost in the monotony of routine tasks, and even unimportant, unaccomplished, and unappreciated. But our efforts are not lost to the Savior. He recognized that those who are young or immature need more care.
Yet our responsibility to feed our young children extends far beyond the tasks of meals, laundry, cleaning the home, etc. As Christian parents we are responsible to spiritually feed our children. They should hear the Word of God from our lips, and they should see it lived out in our daily choices. It is not the Sunday School teacher’s job to teach our children the truths of God’s Word. Their ministry is reinforcing what our children should be learning at home…from us.
We “feed the lambs” by teaching them God’s Word, living God’s Word, explaining God’s Word, helping them memorize God’s Word, and applying God’s Word to everyday situations in the lives of our children. We feed the lambs when we pray for our children, and refuse to let the enemy get a stronghold in their lives.
Sometimes I get tired of going through the same lecture, the same discipline, the same scenario with my little ones. Are they bickering over that toy AGAIN? Did he just hit his sister AGAIN? I want to say, “I shouldn’t have to tell you this again!” But just as there are times physically when I don’t think I can squeeze another ounce of energy out to pry myself out of bed and nurse the baby, so there are times spiritually when I don’t think I have the strength to shepherd these little lambs and their delicate hearts to the Savior. And do you know what? I don’t have the strength. I can’t do it alone. As He gives me strength to meet the physical needs of my children, so the Lord gives the wisdom and the strength to go over that lesson on kindness with my children one more time.
We just started homeschooling for kindergarten last week, and I am very weary. It seems like things are grating on my nerves more quickly than normal. Each task seems to take more energy that I have. But I have been encouraged from this passage to continue on feeding His lambs. He has entrusted four of them to me, and I don’t want to fail the Savior in my task.