Debbie Salter Goodwin
I remember when my mother charged me with impossible tasks, especially the one called “Clean your room.” I grew up a messy, so I could create disaster in my room that might take me all day to clean up. My mother knew what I didn’t want to learn, that it was not an impossible mission. I could clean up my room one misplaced item at a time. It was easier to believe I couldn’t.
I wonder if Peter felt the load of an impossible task when Jesus told him three times to feed his sheep. Actually, he told him to feed his lambs once, but double down on the sheep.
I think Peter was glad to be welcomed into Jesus’ mission after his humiliating betrayal. I don’t think he started making lists of names. I don’t think he targeted certain age groups. I think he started seeing the sheep and lambs around him and he just kept moving into larger circles. The impossible mission wasn’t about how many sheep there were; the impossible mission was whether his heart connected with the passion of Jesus.
Is it just harder today because there are more people? More distractions? More voices? Because we have to do everything differently in this pandemic? Has it become an impossible mission?
There are growing silencers in our culture. They started so harmless. They used words we thought had Jesus’ mission in them. We didn’t recognize how off centered they were.
Perhaps we all need a conversation with Jesus like Peter had. We all need to stand before Jesus who knows where our betrayals are, where our off-mission priorities push us off-center, where our let-somebody else-do it mentality feeds us the wrong message.
It’s simple and impossible at the same time:
Feed my lambs and don’t forget the sheep.
What’s the difference between lambs and sheep? Age? Needs? Marketable value? We overthink it when we try to make distinctions. Our mission is simple: Feed the lambs and don’t forget the sheep.
How do we do that? The same way the disciples did. By moving in our circles. By being present in someone else’s pain with hopeful words from Jesus, not us. And by making bigger circles.
I fail miserably here, so these are not finger pointing words. They are convicting ones for me. I’m thinking about our newly singled neighbor across the street and how to reach out in a time when the pandemic has robbed my easy ways. I’m wondering where I’ve missed connections. Where I was too silent or too verbal.
The good news is that if it were an impossible mission, Jesus wouldn’t have asked it of us!
So what am I going to do about this not-impossible mission? All that Jesus ever asked of me—my part. I will keep reaching out a little further and make sure that I do it from a well-fed heart.
And that’s all Jesus asks you to do, too!