Feed His Sheep, Tend His Sheep, Follow Him

I woke up this morning at around 2:00 AM thinking about Peter. Most people, including myself, identify with Peter because he often spoke without thinking. He was quick with his lips and sometimes with his actions. He was also the one who denied our Lord. Not just once. Three times. If I am honest with myself I must admit that I’ve been guilty of denying our Lord many times more than Peter did. But that’s not what I was thinking about this morning.

I was thinking of Peter the man who would glorify God in a very painful way. What I had in my mind was John 21:18-19.

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”” –(John 21:18-19 ESV)

Jesus told Peter that he would stretch out his hands and go to a place where he would not want to go. The historical record shows that is exactly that Peter did. He died as a martyr stretching his arms like his Lord dying on a backwards cross because he didn’t think of himself worthy of dying like Jesus.

Michelangelo Merisi, aka Caravaggio: Crucifixion of St. Peter, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome

I have a feeling that at that moment Peter did not understand how such a grotesque death would glorify God. I say this because Peter immediately turned to see John who happened to be snooping around and asked Jesus, “what about this man?” Funny how I can relate to Peter in this way more than any other way. I think that it would be very hard for me to know my destiny without questioning the fate of others. What about her Lord? What about him?

When I thought of Peter and what Jesus told him I was reassured that I do not need to understand everything. I do not need to know God’s plan to its fullness. It is very natural to question everything, to want to know details, and to seek for purpose where we see none. Yet, Jesus didn’t explain Himself to Peter. And He certainly doesn’t need to explain Himself to me.

God was speaking to me this morning. There are times where my life seems like a scarlet thread of pain. I feel like I was destined to walk the hard road while others were called to the easy path. I have vivid pictures in my mind of things I want to forget. Some done to me. Others caused by my own foolishness and rebellion. Nevertheless it has been a hard road. And in the past few days I’ve felt that my pain was more intensified especially as I looked for answers to all of my questions. Then I thought of Jesus’ words to Peter: “Feed my sheep.”, “Tend my sheep.”, “Follow me.”, “What is that to you?”, “You, follow me.” and I found that knowing what He needs me to do is far more helpful to me than knowing why He is doing what He is doing.

The Apostle John explained Jesus’ purpose in Peter’s suffering, “this He said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.” But before Jesus shared with Peter the end result He told him what Peter needed to do. Peter was to keep busy feeding the sheep, tending to it, and following Jesus. All this in the midst of great suffering through church persecution, imprisonment, and finally crucifixion.

The end result of my suffering is to glorify God. It is not in vain. It is not without purpose. It was ordained. And it is part of a plan that was not discussed with me, yet its end result is glorious.

In a time and age where pain and suffering are discarded as a mere tools of Satan to make our lives impossible or steal our pleasure it is hard to see suffering as a glorious and precious means for God to get all the glory. Yet, I believe that Satan wants us to believe that all pain and suffering is bad. He knows that when we experience pain it is not our natural tendency to see the glory of God in the midst of it. Satan’s chief plan is to destroy and steal the glory of God. The more that God’s glory shine in us through our suffering the more God is exalted and Satan seeks nothing but to be exalted himself. He is a thief. But he is not after our cars, houses, jobs, children, marriages, and money. No. He is after the glory of God.

Oh, that we would get that! Our enemy could care very little about our bank accounts. He is not mindful of our stuff. Our children mean nothing to him. He is not after your husband or your wife. All he wants is to steal the glory of God! And he will steal whatever he can from you to make you “curse God and die” because he knows that when you do God’s glory is defamed and he has won what he so badly desires. It is easy to let Satan steal God’s glory when we are in pain simply because we are in pain. If instead of fretting, cursing, screaming, or blaming our past, our parents, or our so-called friends for the times we suffer or stumble, we would give glory to God and patiently wait for His rescue, then we would have a tight grip on God’s glory and the enemy would not be able to take away what he is truly after.

As a fellow sister and someone who has had a number of painful experiences I encourage you not to fall into the trap of following your whys or what abouts. There is only one answer that matters—all is meant to bring glory to our Almighty Father in Heaven. By this too He will be glorified. I do believe that much, if not all, suffering is inflicted by our enemy to harm us and steal God’s glory away, but I also believe that God is ultimately in control and has a much greater purpose for all that comes our way. He is not oblivious to what is causing your tears. In the end everything will glorify Him. Rejoice in that.

Genesis 15 tells the story of God making a covenant with Abraham. In the midst of it He tells His friend, Abraham, that his offspring will be slaves for four hundred years in a strange land. That may not have been what Abraham wanted to hear right then. But this prophecy came to pass. And four hundred and thirty years later in Exodus 2 God hears the cry of His people in Egypt and He remembered the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Scriptures say that “God knew”.

God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” –(Exodus 2:25)

God knew that it was time to come to the rescue His people. Their suffering had a purpose. It also had a time limit. Their suffering and enslavement would end up bringing God much glory. You and I are partakers of the covenant that included their suffering. God planned their suffering and also planned their rescue. Wait for God. In His time He will rescue you too. If you are His child you will not be in suffering nor in slavery forever. I promise. Until then, feed His sheep, tend His flock, and follow Him.—Maria

11 thoughts on “Feed His Sheep, Tend His Sheep, Follow Him

  1. Maria…This was beautiful! There are so many times when I feel that I go from grief to grief…that my life is filled with much sadness. What He has shown me gradually through it all, is that the gift in all of the sorrow as I seek Him, is Him…the same as it was for Abraham. He is my shield and my exceedingly great reward. The whys and what abouts do not matter… I would not exchange my grief for anything the world has to give. I have Jesus…His presence goes with me! And…as you said…sometimes it is so difficult when you are in the tunnels of grief to see the light…but how wonderful it is to remember Him and to remember that our job is to shine our light for Him…feed His sheep…tend His sheep…live for Him. When we surrender it to Him…when we get out of the way and keep our eyes on Him…what a glorious testimony our lives are!! May God continue to speak to you as you seek Him. Your post was so encouraging to read. Thank you!

  2. Thank you, Maria, for expanding my faith as I read your thoughts about glorifying God even when we are hurting.Not easy to do, but It brings pain and suffering into the right perspective

  3. wow! thank you for an incredible article. it totally speaks the Word to my heart, we do indeed live in a world where any type of suffering, pain, loss is seen as something to be rejected, hated and “rebuked in the name of Jesus”. yet Jesus didn’t promise us an easy road or a primrose path. He constantly told His listeners that they must “pick up your cross and follow Me”. that means little to us today in the 21st century. but to the people hearing His words it was horror. Jesus’ death by crucifixion was not an isolated episode. the romans had developed it to a science so that it was the most cruel, painful, humiliating death possible. golgotha was a place that had seen thousands of souls dying in agony over the years…and everyone living in or travelling near Jerusalem saw it, probably on a daily basis. the romans meant for it to control the populace. when Jesus said “pick up your cross and follow Me”, He was presenting the listeners with a graphic image that they were to seek His way and that it would cost them to do so…it would cost them everything.
    today we are so out of touch with that reality! yet if we read the new testament carefully and study the history of the church, we see that it has never been meant to bring us wealth, health or material blessings as some have preached. instead, it is a call. the Lord has drawn a line in the sand and told us, that to follow Him,. we must be willing to cross that line. and when we do so,. we enter into what the Word so eloquently describes as the “fellowship of His sufferings”. the apostle paul certainly lived this…for he describes His life and ministry and the sufferings he endrued for His Lord and the Gospel. parts of the church today in many countries suffer terribly for the Gospel and walk in that fellowship. here in the west, we often feel abandoned by God for the most petty reasons. we must indeed follow after the Lord in the paths that He leads us… into the fellowship of His suffering…into the felloship of His death. it is hard and painful…but without entering into that fellowship of suffering and death with Him, we can not know the power of being part of the fellowship of His resurrection. thanks for this article! it’s fed my spirit for days to come!

  4. Maria,

    I feel like I have just read a precious devotion out of a devotion book. I really am inspired by the two of you and do pray that God will bless you in every way! I know God is so pleased with how you are glorifying Him! You make me proud, and I know you make HIM proud! Hugs!! Missy

  5. Dear Maria and Cody, God has brought us all together for a purpose. I don’t think any of us woke up one day and found ourselves at your blog, sharing your life, your joy, then your loss . . .by accident. God guided each of us to you for His own reasons that we may never understand but I have been deeply touched by you and my life has been changed forever because of it.

    As long as we remain here – on this earth, I will think about what you said, Maria.

    “Until then, feed His sheep, tend His flock, and follow Him.—”

    Always praying for your family . . .

  6. Maria,
    What a beautiful testimony of your total devotion to Jesus Christ. Your words are always such encouragement to me and always needed at that particular time. Thank you for sharing.
    I love you.xxooxxoo

  7. God’s timing is perfect. Thank you for being the instrument you are by shining the light of Jesus and in doing so bringing Him glory. I needed the reminder and exhortation. Thanks my sister-in-Christ!

  8. Praying for insight and wisdom for you, to stay on the alter & for His glory to continue in your life (and mine too!).

    Grace & Peace Sister

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