Okay, I’m not a polygamist, and I’m definitely not Solomon, but I do have women in my life, and I need to be dating them. God has provided two other (little) women besides my wife – daughters. My wife and my daughters are the women in my life. For me, dating is a Struggle – yes, a capital S (which makes me another word – with a capital J).
Here’s the thing. I don’t believe I am a romantic. I don’t believe I have what it takes to date well. I don’t see myself as a planner because I believe I’ll be like all those dorks I’ve seen on TV who planned something ridiculous. I don’t want her to be miserable.
Right, the problem is the first word in all of those sentences.
Do you love me?
John captures a moment with Jesus and Peter at the end of his gospel that I suddenly related to as I was thinking about this. Remember when Jesus asks him “do you love me” three times in a row? Yikes. I’d be uncomfortable too. Each time Jesus says something about His lambs or His sheep. He wants Peter to feed and shepherd them. Peter acknowledges that he loves Jesus, but can’t bring himself to say that he loves Jesus truly unconditionally. He uses a different word for love in the Greek that means a friendship kind of love. It makes sense because he’s still feeling the fresh sting of chapter 18 where he denied Jesus three times (only a few days ago).
Jesus asks Peter if he loves him and the third time John noticed that “Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?'”
Have you ever been grieved about something the Lord has asked you? I believe as dads, you and I have been asked the same question.
You have sheep in your life, dad. What are you going to do about it?
“Feed My Sheep”
I have wondered why my sheep are so frail and malnourished because of the lies I’ve believed. Don’t let your sheep and lambs be malnourished. Feed them. Shepherd them.
Think of it – if you believe that you don’t have what it takes, Peter did too. He went back to fishing. Yes, after Jesus died, he didn’t put himself out there and do anything about the last three years of his life. He had even seen Jesus alive, but he was debilitated by his doubt. Have you ever felt that way? I have.
Guess what the first part of the chapter is about? It’s really important that we see this, dads. John starts off by saying this:
“After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way.”
Are you on the edge of your seat? Jesus had just been risen from the dead and had already shown Himself to the disciples. Why would he start the first sentence of his last chapter this way? This is like the Epilogue in John’s gospel. Why would he include that last phrase, “and He manifested Himself in this way.” I don’t think that’s an accident.
Peter was standing around with the other disciples wondering what to do. I imagine them thinking, “Well, now that we won’t be walking with Jesus anymore, what are we going to do? I guess we’ll just go back to fishing.” So Peter says, “I’m going fishing.” They all went with him.
The trouble was, they caught nothing. And here’s where it gets interesting. They saw a guy on the beach and he says something that I wonder if they felt was a little mocking: “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?”
He suggests they cast their net on the other side of the boat. Desperate, they try it out and the net filled to capacity. John tells Peter, “It’s the Lord!” and Peter jumps in a swims a hundred yards to the shore to see Him.
It is as they are eating breakfast eating this fish that Jesus asks His questions. That’s important.
Peter, eating the Lord’s provision, receives Jesus’ command to feed someone else. The provision did not come from Peter. Peter’s attempts were dry – fish-less if you will. With the provision of God, he has more than enough. Peter might have thought, “well, I have nothing to give them,” but that’s exactly the point.
Date the Women in Your Life
Are you seeing it? Dad, when you date the women in your life, don’t try and fish on the wrong side of the boat. You won’t have any food to feed your sheep. As a shepherd, you must know your sheep, but shepherds don’t carry any food on them. They don’t feed the lambs and sheep from some backpack they carry around. No, they lead them to where there is food.
You have sheep in your life. Dating the women in your life is a way to shepherd and feed them. If you don’t think you can do it well (like me), try and count how many times you use the word “I” and guess again. God has provided abundantly for you to be able to do exactly as He says: Tend My lambs; Shepherd My sheep; Feed My sheep. Take one step at a time. Find out what they like and set a day.
But here’s a warning. Jesus’ questions are wise: “Do you love Me?” If you date the women in your life because you love yourself, stop. You are not feeding them. You are only feeding yourself. Do you love the Lord? Choose to answer that question first, then feed His sheep.
For now, I am applying this to dating the women in your life. Your wife and daughters are His sheep, His lambs. Feed them. Shepherd them. Date them.