Jean Mitchell - Western Australia Conventions - 2006

Hymn #44

“Love and prayer and faith’s clear vision.” For me, it’s a privilege to have a part in this family where the love of God unites us, not just here but everywhere. When I was leaving Italy and everyone knew, many sent heartiest greetings to our brothers and sisters here. There’s a lady in Turin who had been looking for the truth and the way of God. She was lying in a hospital bed, opposite to one of our friends who was very ill and was being cared for by our friends and our sister workers. This lady knew, she said, right away that this was the right Way. In a city of more than a million people, she was found. That’s the heart of our Father, like a father who says to a little child, “Take one step at a time” because a little child falls often.

My thoughts have been with Peter and what Jesus said to him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Jesus didn’t say, “If you are converted, but when!” Isn’t that a wonderful hope? There was a future after all for Peter, even though he felt so badly. I thought of some of the steps you and I have taken and you, like me, have stumbled. “There’s a hand held out in pity, there’s a hand held out in love.” It’s the spirit of power and love and a sound mind — not the spirit of fear. Sure we have reverence but it’s the power to forgive, that power of love, and Jesus has this power — He is the sin-offering.

In Luke 5, Jesus used Peter’s boat and said, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” Peter wasn’t really anxious, as it wasn’t convenient for him, but he obeyed, and when he obeyed, he saw the miracle and went and fell down at Jesus’ knees. Any fisherman would have said “It’s not a good time,” but Jesus knew — He knows the right time for you and me to launch out into the deep, as it’s the safest place when He directs us, and there in the deep we see His power.

Peter said, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord. This is a power far greater than I have ever seen.” Psalm 48:4, “For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.” They saw God amongst His people — something they had never seen before, something that had never been told them. Our Father has a power far greater than every other power. I think of Jesus and the power on His side. It speaks that they took steps up into the mount of prayer, and Peter spoke of that occasion as an old man — it was a picture of Jesus in His majesty. Sometimes we take steps with Jesus up into the mount of prayer, too. I was thinking of how Peter’s faith failed. This is what is happening to us these days, isn’t it? We see Him in His majesty and in His power.

Peter let Jesus down by denying Him three times, and then he went out and wept bitterly. Jesus looked on him with a look of love and understanding and compassion. That’s our Master! That’s our older brother! That’s the One who takes our hand when we stumble! How could Peter’s faith become less? Maybe he felt, “I have gone too far,” but then he realised, “Jesus has prayed for me.” And that’s how Jesus is, and even as we sang in that hymn, He’s pleading now within the veil. Peter said, “I will go with you even to prison, unto death.” All the disciples said the same thing, but Peter denied Him three times and failed. We all fail!

I thought of what Jesus said, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” In John 17, He prayed three times for those whom God had given Him and said, “Keep them through thine own name from the world.” He loved them to the end just as He loves us today. Peter was found sleeping and Jesus said, “Could ye not spend one hour with me?” How often I’m found sleeping when I should be praying. Jesus overcame through the power of prayer and after He rose from the dead, those two who were walking to Emmaus went and told, “The Lord is risen indeed and hath appeared unto Simon.” Remember the message that the angels told, “Go tell His disciples and Peter.” Peter would have felt, “I am hardly worthy to be His disciple anymore.” But that’s the heart of our Father!

In the last chapter of John, Jesus said to Peter, “Do you love me? Feed my sheep.” He didn’t say “Can you preach?” but “If you love Me, feed the ones that I love.” That is the message from Jesus, the Good Shepherd today. We sang, “Take one forward step with Jesus:  know ye not He lives to care? His own peace your heart possessing, walk in fellowship and prayer.”