Monday, April 23, 2012

Feed My Sheep: More Reflections on John 21:17

So last night I began my post 10K run reflections with thoughts on John 21:17.   The chapter and verse that when written out together equal the time I had at the half way mark by my watch.  The verse I thought of while making crepes for scrippelle yesterday afternoon.   The verse that I have more to say about.

First, as I have mentioned in my blog before, Peter was my confirmation name.  So, who is Jesus speaking with in this verse?  Well, most directly, Peter.  I had chosen Peter in a sort of arrogant thought that I could be a rock.  That my belief and my spirituality were strong.  My belief has been tested.  My belief has been brought to the brink on more than one occasion.  There are times that I would say that my faith is not strong at all.  However, if I have only a small amount of belief and I can share that with others, then I may help to "feed God's sheep".  Feeding their need for spiritual reflection through my writing.  Feeding people's needs for sustenance through my family's donations.  Feeding a need for physical health through "service running" with Back on My Feet.  Perhaps this is an originally unseen part of the destiny of my confirmation name.  While I believe very much in free will, I also believe that God plays an active role in guiding us if we ask for it.  And that there are times when the answers come--but much, much later.  Perhaps this is all coincidence.  Perhaps there is no such thing as coincidence.

Second, the story has a part that precedes Jesus speaking directly to Peter.  John 21 in general is a story of the risen Jesus (great for Easter reflection) revealing himself to his disciples.  The first 8 verses of the chapter are the story of Peter and other disciples having bad luck fishing and then having much better fortune once Jesus arrives.  Verses 9-14 are about them eating breakfast with Jesus.  The fact that the verse of such importance to me (21:17) is preceded closely by a story of food can be taken two ways.  Obviously in the context of the flow of the Bible, Jesus then in verses 15-17 asks Peter to feed his lambs, tend his sheep, and feed his sheep.  The symbolism of having a meal together at which Jesus provided for his disciples before he asked Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep if not lost on me.  In my case, it is neat, too, because of the link to my own passion for cooking and feeding people.

Finally, getting back to what my friend from college wrote to me.  There are so many ways in which people hunger.  People hunger physically.  People hunger for challenges mentally.  People hunger through spiritual challenges.  People hunger for recognition and validation.  People hunger for a sense that they matter.

One thing I have always hungered for is recognition for something other than being good at academics.  A wise friend from my high school days once suggested I just be happy for being recognized for what I am really good at.  Good point.  This week, I was lucky enough to be quoted in Science Times Global Update in the New York Times.   But this week, I was also blessed to be recognized as a featured runner (as I mentioned yesterday) and as the team member of the month among the community volunteers for Back on My Feet Christopher's Place Team.  What's more, a student called me a pretty cool professor when I talked about the tattoo I'll be getting and my seven year old called me the best Dad.

Why do I need this validation?  Why can't it just be enough to know that I am following God's will, since that is what it is supposed to all be about?  Honestly, I don't know.  It is something with which I continue to grapple--and probably will forever.

I just hope that I can continue to live up to the accolades I receive.  Sometimes I think I do.  Not that that is anything special.  That is what we are all here for and what we are all supposed to do.  Being what I was intended to be and helping others is just following law set down by Jesus--love your neighbor as you love yourself.  So, I don't deserve a gold star for just playing by the rules.  And I also know there are times times I know I fall woefully short.  I'm not always the best dad.  I'm not always a great teammate.  My running attitude is not always exemplary.  And sometimes I am a lousy colleague and not such a great mentor.

I just hope that on net the positive outweighs the negative so that I can stand tall but with humility,  be of service to others who need me, and be obedient to God in whose image I was made.  I want to continue to focus my personal development on being all that God has intended for me rather than simply what I think I should be.  Or better yet--to make those last two one and the same.  

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