Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Hunger (11/08/04)
TITLE: Karen & God's Sheep
By Liz Hoyt Eberle
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“Karen, feed my sheep.”
“Oh, Father,” Karen said out loud, “What would you have me do?”
“Mommy! Hurry!” Jennifer’s scream shot through the silent house. “Tommy’s throwing up everywhere!”
Karen was on her feet and down the hall in one motion, unaware that her Bible had fallen to the floor.
“Sweetie, it’s okay. Mommy’s here,” Karen soothed her three year old son as she carried him to the bathroom. When Tommy’s vomiting subsided and he and the bedroom were cleaned up, five-year old Jenny grabbed her mouth and ran to the bathroom! Lot’s of chicken soup tomorrow, Karen thought.
Late that night as she was slipping into an exhausted sleep, Karen whispered, “Father, I just have so much to do; I’ll feed your sheep… soon.”
“Ladies, as we bow in prayer, seek God’s will for your life,” the Bible teacher instructed. “Don’t be afraid to ask how He wants you to serve.”
The Bible study was a powerful one, the room was quiet and as Karen bowed her heart to her Lord, she heard, Karen, feed my sheep. It was at that moment the church secretary tapped Karen’s shoulder, “Urgent phone call in the office for you,” she whispered.
Karen picked up the phone to hear Betty’s frantic voice, “I don’t know who else to call; you are my best friend. Jimmy has gone into a coma.”
“I’ll be right there, Betty. Hang on. I’m coming.”
Karen knew that Jenny and Tommy would be okay after school until their dad got home. They were good junior high students and very aware that Miss Betty’s husband might die at any time.
Karen held Betty in her arms and both women cried softly. Then they sat in Jimmy’s room, holding his hands while Karen prayed. The Most High himself surrounded them and was their comfort. Long into the night, the friends talked to Jimmy and to each other of their long friendship and of God’s love.
Karen hummed as she took the cookies out of the oven. Tommy, Valerie and their three boys were coming for a week’s visit. The last ten years had been hard but Jenny had moved close to home after her divorce and she and her seven-old twin daughters seemed to be adjusting. Karen stayed busy teaching the teen age Sunday School kids and organizing the ladies who provided meals when there was an illness or a funeral in the church family. She also read to the homebound every week. Life was hectic- but good. While the next batch of dough chilled, Karen sat down at the kitchen table, opened her Bible and began to read. Her heart grew still and she sensed a new closeness to her Father.
“Karen, feed my sheep.”
“Oh Father, I’m so busy… how.. I …” Her prayer was interrupted by a blast from Tommy’s car horn in the driveway. Karen’s Bible fell to the floor as squealing grandchildren clamored around her.
The nursing home room was dark and silent. Tears streamed down Jenny’s cheeks as she stroked her mother’s thin, wrinkled hands. “Oh, please, God,” she whispered, “I’m not ready to give my mother up. I’m all grown up with my own grandchildren, but I still need her.”
Karen roused at the sound of Jenny’s voice.
“Mama, you’re restless and frowning. Can I get something for you?”
“No, Baby. I’m ready to go Home but I’m not finished. God always wanted me to do something special. All through the years, He would ask me to feed His sheep.” Her tired voice broke and tears spilled down her weathered face. “Jenny, I was always too busy to follow His call.”
Karen’s breathing became more labored. Jenny picked up her mother’s worn Bible, turned to Matthew, chapter 25 and began to read.
".. the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You……' "
Karen opened her eyes and smiled. Her Master held out His arms while Jenny continued reading softly, "to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, you did it to Me."