I was walking in the woods this morning and felt compelled to pray for two friends. The crazy thing is, they don’t know they are my friends. I don’t check in with them like close friends do, don’t have them over for dinner or call them to tell them the latest happenings of our family. As a matter of fact, I have never even met them in person. Yet, I love them and watch them, follow them is as if they were my brothers. They helped me through some of my struggles and tears, made me laugh, and even affirmed my calling – all while they were both writing about their convictions.
I was saddened to hear about their arguing, so I prayed.
While walking and praying, I came across a field of maples. The maple seeds had fallen from the mature trees on the fertile soil in spring and grown a few leaves over summer. Now, they sported yellowing leaves all over the forest floor. Like fibers reaching out of a beautiful carpet, they covered the ground.
When I stoped to take a photo, I wondered which ones would stand strong one day and which ones would have to give way.
It was here I knew God was going to speak to me. I tuned the ears of my heart and listened. He did speak.
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved 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. 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.”
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
It’s not my job to determine which of the maples will grow on the forest floor, which one will provide the biggest shade one day. I don’t have that kind of foresight and knowledge. It’s much the same as I walk alongside my brothers and sisters. I have no idea how God will grow what I consider inept or feeble, legalistic or inclusive. I am called to listen carefully, follow Jesus closely, be patient and grow continually in real love. I can only look to myself and make sure I follow. I cannot afford anything else … for people are watching me … and winter is coming.