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Here’s a meditation to help us enter the New Year by coming aside to see what fresh words or commissions the Lord would give us. This is a recording of the talk I gave in church last Sunday. It fits into the series ‘Put out into the Deep,’ and explores the wonderful moment when the Lord meets with Peter on the beach and commissions him afresh.

I have included various aspects of my own recent pilgrimage. We are also sending out the Soundcloud of a meditation I wrote back in 2011 based on this passage in John 21 which I called Breakfast on the Beach. It will hopefully help us to turn and face the Lord and to see what He may want to say to us.

There are some important ideas in the notes below that were not included in the live talk, just as there were things in the talk that do not appear here. In other words, why not get the best of both worlds by listening first and then checking out the notes!

We do pray the Lord will meet with you deeply in this precious time in between Christmas and the New Year just as He met with Peter in a special way in the unique period between the Resurrection and Pentecost.

We will be exploring key areas of waiting and yielding to the Lord, and asking Him what He might have to say about “letting down our nets on the other side” (John 21:6)

Another miracle on the shores of the Sea of Galilee

“Take me deeper Lord” – that’s what we sing and it’s what most of us pray. This passage is a ‘follow on,’ so to speak, from the episode that commissioned the first disciples by the shores of Galilee as Jesus told the disciples where to put their nets down and to find a miraculous catch of fish. He had told them to put out into the deep and they did; they recognized His authority and they followed him into three years of glorious nonstop action as the Son of Man manifested His Father’s glory and taught about his Kingdom in very practical ways.

It was a phase that none of his disciples would have wanted to come to an end, but there are seasons in life and Jesus had been preparing them for some time for the major transition that lay ahead; warning them that He was going to be put to death, and that they would have to learn to relate to Him henceforth by the leading of His Spirit.

We are picking up the threads again during the period between the Resurrection and Pentecost, which was when the disciples saw Jesus again alive and were overwhelmed with joy. (John 20:20) But rather like the children in the Narnia stories, they never knew when or even if they were going to see Aslan again; ‘he’s not a tame lion!’

The passage we are looking at today in John 21 bookends the gospels, because it involves another miraculous catch of fish on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where Peter had returned to do the one thing he knew to do, which was to fish, and he’d taken others with him.

There is a moment of commissioning or rather recommissioning that was about to come for his precious disciple Peter. The Lord had taken care to include him in proceedings after the Resurrection. The angel had said, “Go and tell the disciples AND Peter’ and Jesus had met with him since then but there was still more to come for this man who had felt so screwed up since he had denied his Lord three times.[1]

The Lord is such a brilliant psychologist!

There is a precious moment in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe when Aslan walks off alone with Edmund after his ‘resurrection’; we don’t know exactly what they shared together but it changed Edmund from a self-centered person who had betrayed the others into a wholehearted follower of Aslan. Such “commissioning” moments are so powerful because they enable us to do and to become what we could not do or be by our own efforts.

I’ve had the privilege of visiting by Lake Galilee where this episode took place, and Peter finally recognized the Lord calling to them. For Peter it was probably a relief to be away from the prying eyes of the mob in Jerusalem, whose blood was up, and back in Galilee. They needed time to process all that had happened; first their shattered hopes and then the miracle of His Resurrection reappearances. The fact that Jesus appeared again to the disciples where it had all begun by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1) is a reminder that God appoints and ordains these encounters; they are never random.

Except that that relief was sharply tested by a night spent peering at a strangely blank echo sounding screen that was showing precisely no fish. Most depressing! We’re so quick to say, “But, Lord, you haven’t answered our prayers for fish!” We easily feel that way when our prayers appear not to have been answered. We’re not a generation that takes kindly to waiting. Can you imagine how bleak it would feel after a whole night like that without catching so much as a sardine or a minnow? May the Lord help us to resist the thoughts that allow bleakness into the soul. ‘I don’t get many opportunities to help people come to know the Lord; I’m not much use to anybody; nothing ever happens to me . . .’ or whatever the particular refrain is that gets to you.

I can’t help thinking, too, that if the disciples had made a bumper catch straightaway, they might have been tempted to think, ‘Oh well, fishing isn’t such a bad way to earn a living. Let’s get back to it!’ The Lord is such a brilliant psychologist – and He has amazing ways of bringing His greatest blessings out of our deepest disappointments!

But this moment of commissioning when both God and we are ready, and not a day sooner. There had been a time of waiting first, just as there are many times when we need to ponder and practise the word of the Lord through the prophet Habakkuk, that the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though the vison tarries and it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. (Hab. 2:3)

Though the vison tarries

There are some things we must wait for; a baby can’t be hurried to term, nor a tree to fruit, or a child to become an adult overnight. We must wait for the tide to turn or the day to break. Thank God for rhythms and seasons – they are not incidental or accidental but an integral part of how God has designed things!

But if you are in a time of sowing and seeking you can’t expect to reap. God comes when both He and we are ready, and not a day sooner. There are times when we need to ponder and practise the word of the Lord through the prophet Habakkuk, that the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though the vison tarries and it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. (Hab. 2:3)

What Jesus promises He will also fulfil! Are you old enough to remember the phrase, ‘Please allow 28 days for delivery’? No-one would dream of doing that nowadays – we’d look for another company! We’ve got ‘No waiting’ stuck up at every corner of our lives. Some people choose not to wait even for death. But if you live on Ascension Island and order something from an Internet company, you can expect it to take three months to come. Many of God’s best things do not come instantly.

I’ve just hit my three score years; you’re only sixty once – but I still wouldn’t say that I am good at waiting. Yet despite all the digital age has done to speed things up a high percentage of our life will always be spent in waiting. For friends and appointments to come around, to get beyond the endless loops on the help lines . . . for Christmas to come, (especially if we are younger!) for Jesus to return and for the moment when the times have reached their fulfilment and He brings unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (Eph. 1:9-10) All of life, in one sense, is a time of preparation for when we reach our eternal home.

More about Waiting

When seasons change God has purposes in the new season. Some time ago, when Ros was very keen to move on from the job she was in at that time, and when half a dozen of her colleagues had already found new posts, the Lord told us, “The fact that I have not come for Ros as I came for the others does not mean that I will not come for her.” Sure enough, after several very testing months, a job came up that was ideally suited to her. How kind He is to meet us and to keep us, even through prolonged waiting times.

In the world, in between times are usually all and only about waiting for the thing that is desired to arrive. If we are at the bus stop the only thing that matters is the arrival of the bus. But we are on a more profound pilgrimage in which waiting actually does matter very much, rather as our math’s teachers used to tell us that it is the working out that matters and not just the actual answer.

Perhaps it makes it easier to remember that the journey is every bit as important to the Lord as the destination if we remember how He waited for thousands of years before He sent His Son to earth, just as He is waiting now for the right time to blow the trumpet and signal the time of the return of His Son. (Incidentally, some of us are inclined to think of that moment, when the Author as it were returns to the stage, as marking the end of all things, whereas I prefer to think of it rather as marking the beginning of an entirely new phase of His story).

It’s so easy to look on these waiting times as being an unwelcome delay and distraction from getting on with the real work, but the repeated calls in Scripture to ‘wait on the Lord’ remind us that He is inviting us to enter an entire dimension of entwining ourselves in the Lord rather than just gritting our teeth until the longed for answer comes.

Personal Update

There are seasons in the life of the soul. A few weeks ago I climbed the 365 Calvary steps in Pollenca in Majorca, which people often climb as an act of pilgrimage. At the top I felt the Lord gave me a simple but powerful word: ‘Don’t be afraid. You are about to experience a considerable amount of weakness. You will have to be as willing to lay things down as you were to pick them up in the first place.’

This wasn’t exactly the energizing word I had been hoping to hear, but let’s never forget that the Lord’s best purposes are often fashioned out of weakness. It was no great surprise when a virus trundled along and smote me down. Behind the yuck of that, however, the Lord was enabling me to beaver away in other directions; in many ways it was actually a really precious enclosed time.

One of the first things we need to discern is whether the waiting times we go through are something we are called to endure, or whether there are delays and obstacles we are called to push through in faith. Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people, the prophet urges in Isaiah 62:10. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nations. As Jesus says in Mark 11:23, ‘Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.

This is not a word that can be resisted by taking authority over the weakness; it was a recognition of what was coming; namely a nasty virus that left me unable to get out of Malvern for a couple of months. But behind those outward limitations God was beavering away getting on with many things in a more enclosed environment. It felt as though this was a warning generally, rather than just for a limited period of time.

I was quite sure from the way the Lord had phrased things to me at the top of the 365 Calvary steps that I was not going to be to just “take authority” over the weakness; it was a recognition of a new phase that was coming. Any attempt to have done so would have been no more successful than if the Israelites had attempted to shout on the second or third time round the walls of Jericho. There is a moment to shout, but this was now a time of waiting for the disciples as Jesus prepared the disciples for the time when they would need to learn to look to Him moment by moment and step by step in and by the power of the Spirit.

When we are not in control: The Stature of Waiting

Some years ago Canon Vanstone published a book called The Stature of Waiting (DLT), in which he described Jesus’ ministry. First came three years of active ministry in which the gospel writers show us Jesus touring Israel and doing things. As you would expect the primary verbs in the NT are all in the active tense: He went about doing good, preaching the kingdom of God and delivering the sick and demon possessed. He walked, He taught, He shared parties with publicans and meals with the most unlikely people; He initiated all that happened to and around Him.

In those few days that we call the Passion, which take up over a quarter of the gospels, things turn around and we see horrible things being done to Jesus by others. It started from the moment Satan entered Judas, when He was betrayed by one of His disciples; it continued when He was brought before a prejudiced and corrupt court, and sentenced first to a brutal flogging, to be mocked and humiliated before experiencing the agony of a criminal’s crucifixion at the hands of callous Roman soldiers, before culminating gloriously in being raised from the dead by the God the Father, exactly as He had predicted.

Sometimes we pray for guidance when what is really needed is that we align our will to match the Lord’s. We have been taught to be a self-sufficient people who hold everything tightly, gripping hold of something hard. But it is so much richer to live with an open hand. It’s no accident that we often worship with open hands. We never lose out by yielding.

Our posture speaks: are we in a yielded position or a taut and tense one? Lord, help us to yield back to You whatever you want to do wherever you want to send us!

I have so often benefitted from taking time out to evaluate the focus of our lives. Just before Christmas I was able to spend a really precious four days on day silent retreat in a convent just over the border in Wales. No radio or TV or Internet; just time to seek the Lord. I enjoyed it er, well, beyond words!! Ros has been there for the last four days too.[2]

There is such value in setting time aside to focus entirely on the Lord. Incidentally, having a silent meal or walk is different from just having a meal or a walk in which you happen to say nothing; it is a deliberate and conscious desire to be with the Lord. It is not only soul refreshing, but always fruitful, not least in terms of knowing what things to pick up or to lay down.

There is something about this waiting that humbles our pride because we are not in control. Humanly speaking each of us will often reach the point where are not in control – so here’s a remarkable thought to show us how important that can be: when Jesus was actively touring the Holy Land He only reached a relatively few thousand people – perhaps 5000 at a time at the most. But when He humbled himself and yielded to the path that led to the cross, by the “passive” crucifixion He endured, (the Passion), He saved countless millions. God was still in control despite all the darkness His Son endured.

So the first point to emphasize here is that when we put out into the deep with the Lord, it undoubtedly will mean going into situations where we will face trials and hazards of many kinds, “My son, when you come to serve the LORD, prepare yourself for trials.it is during these waiting times that our faith proves itself and God sees that we are serious about seeking Him. (Sirach 2:1)

The Willingness to Yield

How do you cope when you reach the point where you are not in control and have to yield? For yielding is the concomitant of waiting, and in one form or another it lies at the heart of all serious steps forward that we take.

For over thirty years, Nigel Swinford, the director of the New English Orchestra, has acted as though his next engagement might be his last. With all his heart he lays down his ministry and waits to see what the Lord will say and if He will recommission him in some fresh way. This is not a neurotic response, much more a robust determination not just to do more of the same because he’s done it before and has got the man power to do it!

This is yieldedness in action, a deep longing to flow with God’s purposes; combined with the realisation that the moment we start assuming we can just crack on with our own agendas, even one minute beyond God’s call and anointing, we are in danger of no longer being truly Spirit led but may rather be heading towards trusting in the system or organisation we are part of, and the formulas we are familiar with that. This can be so serious that we can become inflexible and blunted, and may even be in danger of developing a “stronghold” of institutional mentality.

Institutional mode means doing things because we are able to do them by our own efforts, and because we have the people and systems in place to be able to perpetuate them; Spirit-led means making sure that we are still looking to Him for support and direction rather than to the ‘system’.

Anointing oil on the railway tracks!

At any moment the Spirit can move, and new opportunities open up. I wasn’t able to get out of Malvern for a couple of months recently, but the day before I went on a trip to London Leston prayed with me and saw the Lord very clearly pouring out anointing oil on the railways track as I went. Between Birmingham and London, in a busy train the Lord so arranged things that I found myself sitting opposite a young Rwandan woman. There were just two of us around a table for four and I sensed the Lord wanted me to share with her.

She asked to see what I was reading and when saw that it was a message from the book of Daniel she said wistfully, ‘I wish God spoke like that today!’ I gave her a copy of The Still Small Voice, and we embarked on a really powerful time of sharing in which she was drinking in the Lord’s presence; and when we turned to prayer His presence fell incredibly deeply. The Lord really had poured out His anointing oil. I love it!

You never know what God will ask us to do but we must always be on the alert. His voice comes so many different ways. The following night at 11.30, I saw a woman sitting with her back resting against the underground wall in tears. I went up to her and asked if it would help to talk. She had recently been made homeless and had a couple of months to wait for housing benefit came. She said she had been praying all day for help. I was with some old friends, Guy and Lynn Rothwell, and we were able to pray with her and provide for her to spend a week in a shelter for homeless people.

We must be alert, for these moments usually come out of the blue: unheralded and unannounced. You never know when God is going to break through and do something really beautiful and lasting.

Obey His Nudges

Unfortunately we won’t always get it right. Many years ago on the Paris underground the Lord told me to go up to a beggar woman and to witness to her. I glanced at my watch and replied, “Awfully sorry, Lord it will make me late for church.” (Honestly, the excuses we come up with!)

When I reached the ticket barrier it didn’t work(!), but instead of getting the message I went back to the ticket office and bought another ticket! This one did work but when I got to the next station the Lord caught up with me, so to speak, and He was blazingly angry. “I told you to go up to that woman. Now turn around and get back there. She needs to hear the gospel.” And she did!

We can’t always tell how urgent a nudge is. Sometimes someone comes to mind and it is only just a gentle nudge but it is corresponding to something really important that is going on at the other end. It is so important not to miss the nudge. He takes our little prayers and makes them go a long way.

I often find that when hearing a person’s story that God reminds me of someone else or of some past experience to get me looking in the right direction. Peter was probably remembering how Jesus had first called them to be His disciples in Luke 5:4, when, after another lean night catching nothing, He told them to put out into the deep – and how they caught so many fish that their nets began to break.

When the Lord appears in Disguise

When they reached the shore, the disciples were itching to ask Jesus who He was, even whilst they sensed instinctively that it must be Him. Why did it take them so long to recognise Jesus? That’s easy. It says in Mark 16:12 that Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection ‘in a different form’.

The fact that the Lord deliberately disguises himself during this forty-day period before the Ascension is a reminder to us that we must be quick to discern the ways in which God is working when He is working as it were in pencil rather than indelible ink. It allows more room for those godly qualities of faith and endurance! Jesus often had to rebuke His disciples for being slow of heart to believe; may we not grieve the Father’s heart by being slow to trust. We are called to live by faith and not sight.

You may be waiting for news about something you are hoping for – or something potentially unpleasant, like the results of investigations. God is with you during the waiting time!

When we are going through situations that appear to be completely outside of our control, and we are forced to be “passive,” it is incredibly comforting to ponder that God may still be doing His richest things on our behalf, and for the benefit of others.

The disciples suddenly hear someone calling them from the shore: ‘Children!’ (The NIV translates it, ‘Friends; but the word is actually better translated, “children”. “Any fish, boys?” as Kenneth Taylor expresses it). Although the disciples are barely younger than Jesus, they are also His spiritual children as well as His special friends. And so are we!

I love the fact that the Lord Jesus chose to meet with them in their place of work. Seeing people in their place of employment opens up whole new dimensions of our understanding of people. After all, for most of us, our place of work is our principal mission field. It goes without saying for those of us who are young, or retired, that our home is our principal focal point.

Notice how Jesus reveals Himself gradually. It may take us time to grasp what God is doing in a particular situation, as we gradually realise that the Lord really is in something, or that He is no longer in it. Our task then is always to bring as much of ourselves as we can to as much of God as we understand and trust Him to make up the difference. Isn’t that a lovely thought!

The Lord needs our cooperation

When the Lord asked the disciples ‘Do you have anything to eat?’ He knew full well that they did not, but He wanted to hear it from their lips – not least because some of us may be extremely reluctant to admit those times when we are just not coping, perhaps out of shame and embarrassment, or because the expectation of being self-sufficient has been so deeply drummed into us. Always Jesus seeks to draw us out: “What do you want Me to do for you?”

This is something to be aware of as we look around at people who may be seemingly very together, but actually be in considerable need behind their outward composed face. Every time we meet with people is a chance to love and serve them. There may be more that we can to do to help than we are currently doing. I had the permission of some friends to share anonymously a great need they had concerning a large tax bill they had received; and someone in another country who didn’t know them felt led to send them a donation – for the very sum that had been keeping them awake at night.

A fresh touch from God

It was John who discerned first that it was the Lord, but it was Peter who plunged into the water to get near Him. The other disciples followed Peter, towing the net ashore. (21:8) The Church needs both visionaries in the church and those who are activists – but we also need people who are simply prepared to do the work that needs to be done. Not all of us can be up front Peters; some are practical like Martha, or more deeply thoughtful like Martha’s sister Mary. Some of us are more like the church’s eyes, (the prophets), and some more the church’s hands. We need all the giftings working together in the church.

Jesus had given considerable thought to preparing for this encounter in which he would specifically recommission Peter. He had made an early start, and was busy preparing breakfast on the beach for them, cooking fish over a brazier of coals. The symbolism is profound. In the courtyard of the high priest, while the trial of Jesus was getting under way, Peter had sat with the guards, warming his hands on the cold spring day over a charcoal fire. This was where Peter denied his Lord not once but three times.

Have you noticed how often when we have failed the Lord in some way that He allows us a sort of rerun to see how we will respond another time around? Jesus loved Peter so much that He needed and wanted him to do better. It is much the same in our lives. He is the God of the second third and thirtieth chance.

Notice that Jesus had already brought fish and put them on the brazier. He is always one jump ahead of us, just as the two Marys made their way to the tomb wondering who would move the stone from in front of the tomb, only to find when they got there that an angel had done the job for them.

When something really is too difficult for us, God intervenes to make a way where there is no way; sometimes just in small steering touches at other times in breaking down gates of iron to make a way through for us. You must have known times when you really needed help and the Lord provided just the right person at just the right time to help in answer to our prayers. There would be many other waiting times for the disciples: shortly as they prayed and waited for the coming of the promised Holy Spirit – I am sure they did not really know what it was they were waiting for, but they were doing what Jesus had told them to do. As always, obedience precedes understanding when it comes to spiritual matters. If we do what we have been called to do, and do not lose heart, God will find ways to bless.

Let down your nets on the other side

What happens is best described as a recommissioning. What had happened before in private is now publicly acknowledged. ‘Peter, do you want Me to touch your life and realign your heart with me?’ ‘You know I do, Lord.’ That ‘you know I do’ is more than the bolshie response it might at first appear.

By the way, don’t be tempted to interpret Jesus’ question ‘Do you love me more than these?’ as meaning, ‘Do you love Me more than John does?’ God isn’t into those sorts of comparisons, and we mustn’t be either. What it means is that we cannot afford to put anyone, or anything ahead of the Lord Himself. Anything can become a rival – and God’s love is a jealous love that brooks no rivals.

God asks the question three times as if to match Peter’s three previous emphatic denials. Peter’s first response sounded fine, but the Lord needed it to go from head to heart. Where our hearts have strayed towards something or someone that they should not have done – or when we have simply become accustomed to living in a lukewarm state – we need to hear again the Lord’s probing challenge. Of course this is challenging. Peter may have been hurt by this, but Jesus kept on asking because he was determined to get below the surface to probe the depths of his motivations.

Setting the Direction of our Hearts

All of us tend to move in the direction of our dominant thoughts – so these are the things we need to identify to see if the Lord can honour them. We cannot afford to allow anything to master us, as Paul warns in 1 Cor. 6:12. What’s the point of diverting many resources to something that, at best, is of neutral benefit to the kingdom?

Jesus knew of the great trial Peter would go through in the courtyard of the High Priest, and that Peter would fall. A great battle was going on not only in Peter’s soul but for it. It is rather like the beginning of the book of Job, where Satan asked to sift Job’s faith. ‘Simon, Simon,’ Jesus had warned Peter, ‘Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ (Luke 22:31-32) Jesus insisted on being thorough about the whole process of restoration because already in His spirit He could the vast multitude of people whose lives and destinies would henceforth be touched as a result.

I’m so glad that when Jesus “catches up” with Peter, so to speak, He is not in the least bit condemning. “I hope you’re thoroughly ashamed of yourself. You promised that you’d do anything for Me, even go to prison, but just look at yourself. One denial would have been bad enough but to deny that you denied Me makes matters far worse.” Jesus does not belong to the ‘tut and frown’ brigade.

Incidentally, most of us not only have to face other people tutting and frowning at us; we do it to ourselves. If Peter had allowed a sense of shame to have to have dominated in his heart, or gave taken himself out of the Lord’s process of reconciliation, he could have spun out of the Lord’s orbit forever. The Lord gave a lot of thought to the whole process of restoration, just as He does for us when we stumble or fall along the way. His question majored on love, ‘Do you love Me?’ because love covers a multitude of sins and failures.

Follow Me!

Each time the Lord’s response is very slightly different. ‘Feed My lambs.’ This is a sign that Peter would be bringing many newborn souls into the kingdom. Do the work of an evangelist and care for them. But lambs grow up so Jesus moves on to say ‘Take care of my sheep.’ Peter, as the one on whom Jesus’ mantle is being most directly placed, must take responsibility for pastoring the church He is about to give birth to.

Finally, Jesus tells him to ‘Feed My sheep.’ It is not enough just to have an organization in place; there must be real spiritual growth, making room for God’s people to flow and function in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Only after facing up to that uncovering process was Jesus ready to give Peter his clear new recommission to ‘Follow Me.’ I say recommission because Jesus had addressed these words to the disciples many times before. They were the same words He had used on several occasions before, but they came with fresh emphasis and anointing. We too may experience this. The Greek literally says, ‘Go on following Me.’ It is a very vigorous call that will require every ounce of our focus and strength as we first glimpse His hand in certain ideas and projects – and then devote ourselves to the hard work that is sure to be involved in bringing those visions about.

For myself, the Lord originally commissioned me nearly forty years ago during an amazing three hour period that God accorded and in which I met the Lord Jesus in a way that He told me would not happen again in quite this way this side of Heaven. He called me to be His witness, which proved to be a many layered word. Firstly, it was to be an out and out evangelist, then to bring His messages to God’s people across the churches, and to call the wider Body of Christ to intercession, and specifically to show how prophetic worship and intercession could be linked together; and now more recently He is leading me into an outwardly more withdrawn phase in which He is enabling me to seek His face and to stand as His watchman, sensing trends and passing on encouragements, warnings, prophecies and directives that come from standing in His presence.

I’ve often found that when the Lord moves me on from one stage to another my mind lags a bit behind because I enjoyed aspects of the previous phase so much that I didn’t want to let go; and I have to come to the pace of recognizing that a particular season really has changed and that I need to go with the new flow.

I have always found the overlap times challenging when the Lord is moving me on from one primary emphasis to another, not least because there were always really precious things in the previous call which it is costly to give up. That again is why yieldedness is so important. For a ship to set sail every rope that attached it to the harbour side has to be undone. How else will there be room for the new thing to come through? You can only go so far if the rope is only slackened. Many people step out, but then, when they meet obstacles and barriers, they effectively put up the barriers and say ‘thus far and no further.’ At the very time when they really do need to push through they hold back. How much richer to say, “Lord I’m prepared to go all the way with You!”

What might the Lord have to say to you about “letting down your nets on the other side?” (John 21:6) How about asking Him not a for a New Year resolution but for a word, phrase or verse for the coming year!

Lord, You’re so proactive in the way You lead us! Sometimes You speak directly, at other times You use just a chance remark to show us something, or to convict us.

Let there come a sharpening in our spirits of what it is that You are commissioning us to do. Keep us on a close leading rein. We don’t want to go off-piste. Time is too short. Speak to the depths of our heart and we say “Yes, Lord, we follow you willingly.” In Jesus’ name.

Footnotes

[1] The angel told Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome to go and tell Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:7) There is no contradiction between Jesus telling the woman three times that He would meet them in Galilee and the fact that he clearly met with them in Jerusalem first. In Galilee he met with seven of them, including Peter, (John 21:1-14), and He then went on to meet all eleven of them on the mountain He had directed them to go to (Matt. 28:16), before returning to Jerusalem for the final times of inputting His instructions and explanations, before ascending to His Father (Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:9-12; cf 1 Cor. 15:1-7).

[2] This is the place we stayed in. We would highly recommend it for a silent retreat. http://www.tymawrconvent.org/