5 March, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
Nurturing – Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16
For some reasons, whenever I think of the adjective “nurturing”, my first thought is food (although, to be fair, it doesn’t take much to make me think of food). But in reality, this adjective embodies much more than that. Amongst the definitions of “nurture” that I came across, the one that I think best describes it is: “to take care of, feed, and protect someone or something, and help him/her/it to develop.”
By looking at Jesus’ life it’s possible to see three distinct ways in which he nourished the people around him:
- By taking care of their practical needs: It’s interesting to see that Jesus’ first miracle was very practical: there is a wedding and they are out of wine! In so many occasions Jesus gladly helped people in tangible ways, like when he fed a big crowd, the times he healed, the time he washed his disciples feet, the time he cooked them breakfast after a long night fishing, that last act of service before going back to the Father.
- By taking care of emotional needs: so many times during his ministry we hear sentences like: “do not be afraid”, “be courageous”, “Rejoice”. These were said in different occasions, to different people, with the purpose of helping them as they were going through a tough time. So many times his disciples have benefited from the emotional nurture that came from him. Even at the very end when he tells them: “I am with you always.” A promise that we can also make our own.
- And last but not least, by taking care of their spiritual life: during his time on earth Jesus taught us how to pray, he explained some of the most complicated mysteries of life through practical examples and captivating stories so that everybody could understand. He offered us a living example on how to live, how to love, how to serve, how to forgive. But most of all, he offered us the only way to get to the father: through his death.
To nurture for Jesus is to take care of our practical, emotional and spiritual needs.
This for us means two things: first of all, let him take care or you! Take full advantage of having a loving father, eager to nurture you so that you can grow. Whether we are struggling with practical things like money, time, work, or emotional things like our relationships, our self-esteem, our losses, or with spiritual things like our struggles with sin or those times when we feel spiritually dry. Go to him.
At the same time, though, as we are called to be like Jesus we should follow his example in our relationships with others. Jesus’ example of care and support for those people in his life, not least his disciples, meant they were able to grow in him and then go out and, quite literally, change the world. If we can follow this example in our relationships with others – be they our friends, our family, our children or our colleagues – I am excited to think where God could take them.