Feed My Sheep

Posted: August 26, 2014 in communion
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It was Friday afternoon and, for months, I had been looking forward to hearing a pastor that was coming from out of town to speak at our church. I had stayed on schedule all day and saved just enough time to attend a small gathering to meet our guest before the meeting started; however, the phone rang a few minutes before I was planning to leave. It was a friend who was asking if I could help with food to feed her family.

Did I mention that it was Friday afternoon, and I was trying to get to church to hear a speaker that I had been waiting months to meet and hear?

I made a quick list of the non-profits in the area that offer food assistance and sent a text with the information to my friend in need, but who was I kidding? All of the places were closing up for the day and would not re-open until Monday. I knew I needed to go the extra mile. I decided to do a quick post asking the social media world if there were any food distributions happening over the weekend. Done! Mile traveled! I was finally on my way to the meeting and would make it right on time. God will provide for the family, I thought to myself.

On the way, a text message told me that the get-together before the meeting had been canceled. Consequently, I had an hour to spare. It would be lovely to go to Panera Bread and just relax, eat, and read for a few minutes before the meeting started. Fortunately, I couldn’t shake the earlier phone call, nor the thoughts of someone being hungry, nor the fact that I knew where there might be some food to take the family in need. But, did I have time to get the food and take it to the family before the meeting started? I would hurry!! I went to our church’s storage closet where we sometimes have some extra canned goods. Now, I actually thought I had given almost all of the food away from that closet a few weeks back, so I wasn’t expecting to find much–if anything. And, once I looked in the closet, it  really didn’t look like much, but I loaded what was there into my van. I loaded until my back seat was full. I was so surprised! I looked at the time and thought, nope, I don’t have time to get this to the family today. I would try and deliver on Saturday. Surely this family could wait until tomorrow. Ya’ll know God wasn’t going to let that happen, right?

Having a little time before church, I sat down with my phone and happened to see I had a notification on my Facebook from the earlier post. A woman in the neighborhood that ministers to children that are living in motels and homeless shelters had leftover food from her food delivery ministry, and I was welcome to come get it for the family. I was right, God would provide for my friend’s family, but he was making me late for church. Of course, I said yes! I quickly looked at my watch and drove to her house to pick up the food.

Leftovers, really? I walked into this sweet lady’s home and her dining room table was FULL of food: watermelon, fruit tray, large tray of yogurt, flour, rice, cereals, breads, canned goods, sweets! I was AMAZED at the bounty. Her gifts combined with what was in my backseat would be such a blessing.  As grateful as I was for the food, I saw the perishable items and knew that the food would have to be delivered immediately. Darn. Still trying not to be late to the meeting, I left on two wheels to deliver the food.

The day was hot and humid. Miserable weather. I had already changed clothes three times that day, and I had not planned for this excursion around town. The air conditioner in my van barely works and the windows do not come down, so I was sweating through another outfit and grumbling. As if I needed any more irritation, I had forgotten exactly where my friend lived and was just wandering. Thank God it was only for a few minutes and not forty years!

GET OUT OF MY WAY GOD, I’M TRYING TO GET TO CHURCH. I actually said this outloud and meant it for about 10 seconds.

The absurdity of my attitude during this situation began to settle on me.

I was exactly where God wanted and needed me. Feeding His sheep.

Realizing I was on the wrong street, I finally corrected my mistake and arrived at her home where my friend was waiting and was thrilled at the provision for her family. The next day I received a message from the woman who donated the feeding route’s leftovers. Would this family need food next Friday? If so, she would gladly set aside groceries for me to pick up! I did not have to ask the Lord, consult a committee, or check my schedule. The answer was yes. I knew the Lord would provide for my friend. Initially, I had hoped he would use the local mission or someone else that had “a little more time”, but over the course of the afternoon, His Presence tutored me in the ways of Love. There’s always enough time to love!

For several weeks I have been reflecting on communion and trying to understand “my place” at His Table. You see, I’m convinced that communion is so much more than the weekly or monthly sacraments that we share during a time of fellowship within the church body. I’m convinced that we are witnessing a prophetic picture of the body of Christ (which is now us) broken for the world.  “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19 (NIV) Yes, we spend time celebrating and remembering the finished work of the Lord, but there’s so much more to His Table than a short celebration!  In 1 Corinthians 12:27 Paul says, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” I believe the table we celebrate around on Sunday falls short without an open Table every moment of every day for the spiritually and physically hungry. When communion lacks community, it’s not communion. Nora Gallagher in her book, The Sacred Meal, writes about her work in a soup kitchen to feed the homeless, “When I walked in the door, I felt I was walking toward the same place I sought when I took Communion.” This is what I experienced when I arrived to deliver my friend’s food. The body of Christ broken for the world–God of living Bread. It isn’t spoken any clearer than in John 21:17, when the apostle wrote, “He  said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”  Anytime we meet a need it always goes beyond the physical. 

Lastly, I should mention that I arrived in plenty of time to meet our guest and attend the meeting at our church. God didn’t disappoint me, in fact, He ministered to me sweetly and tenderly throughout the weekend. 

Being tutored in Love isn’t always comfortable nor convenient. But, it is quite beautiful that God created us in His image and then left His presence to teach us to walk in His original design…we are created from LOVE to be LOVE to a world that needs LOVE!  🙂

 

 

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