FEED MY LAMBS IN EVERY VALLEY
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, SIMON, SON OF JONAS, LOVEST THOU ME MORE THAN THESE? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, FEED MY LAMBS”
“Yes, through I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; they rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
As a child growing up on our family farm in Mississippi, I especially appreciated that Our Lord used so many agricultural and livestock analogies and metaphors in his teaching ministry while He was here with us in the flesh. Here are some of the ways I was taught were the proper way to feed and care for livestock:
1) Approach the creature gently;
2) Carry only fresh food to them;
3) Offer a small amount for acceptance of any strange new foods;
4) Respect the space around the animal for their own comfort
and your own safety;
5) Hum and speak softly reassuring words to a new animal;
6) Provide only the correct amount for that day’s nurture so as to
avoid waste and spoilage;
7) Keep the pens shoveled, raked and spread with fresh straw;
8) Observe and report any animals that are in conflict;
9) Walk around amongst the animals to check for injuries;
10)Securely fasten all gates for the animals’ own protection.
As I have journeyed through life since those farm days, I have experienced the good results when I remember to practice these same steps in “feeding” the lambs and sheep of this world. I believe Jesus used the “feed my lambs” metaphor for extremely good reasons! He knew that those disciples were very familiar with the proper care of livestock. I believe He intended for them to follow all the practices I have listed above, as well as others, when feeding and caring for the lambs, the children in God’s family. Hurting, lost people benefit when approached in the same ways a good farmer will treat his/her livestock.
In addition for the actual feeding and care time spent at the livestock pens, I was also taught as a child not to fear going out in all weathers or in the dark or in new parts of our farmlands to find “lost sheep.” I was taught to secure the “99” and go out and bring home the “1” lost animal. How many times I recited, in trembling and faith, the 23rd Psalm as I bent into a driving rain to go after a newborn animal bellowed over by its frantic mother!
Brothers and sisters, fellow seekers and disciples, let us go out to minister to both bodies and souls as good animal husbandmen would go to feed and care for livestock. Remind yourselves always that Jesus commissioned the disciples to show their love for Him by the instruction to “Feed my lambs” for excellent reasons. You will be amazed and blessed as you follow the practices with His human lambs that He knew were correct for using with actual lambs. As you step out, leaving all fear behind, you too will bring many lambs out of the dark and stormy places of this world!
In closing today, I will just share a small verse I have been humming to myself in preparing this post today:
Carrying a bucket of fresh grain
I tripped along in song
so gladsome was I after the rain
I knew we had needed for so long.
Unlatching so carefully the old wooden gate
I whispered in more song
Unclenching a hand so slow without prate
I offered best kernels to little one most in the wrong.