There are moments and seasons in life that cause us to lose focus - or just utterly freak out! Whether it is through crisis and loss - if you are anything like me - there is a tendency to respond initially with anxiety and worry. The question on my mind this week has been, “What would it take for me to respond with anticipation, rather than anxiety?” I think it comes down to one simple thing…
I’ve mentioned many times over the last few years how much I learn from our team members. As a Chaplain, I have the unique privilege of being allowed to enter into people’s story in real-time, as it is unfolding.
What I have come to realize is that everyone is going through something.
I was having a conversation with someone a few weeks ago. They were trying to navigate some recent changes and having some anxiety about everything. They brought up the story of Peter walking on water in terms of what they were experiencing right now. I asked them to unfold that a bit. What they said next was incredibly insightful.
Here’s the story in Matthew 14 for some context. The disciples are in a boat and there is a massive storm. Then, Jesus shows up.
Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
Matthew 14:27-33 (NLT)
Knowing this person was a believer, I had asked how their faith was helping them navigate through what was a really stressful season. This was their response, “I can relate to Peter on a lot of levels. I trust God enough to get out of the boat. Trusting in Him gives me courage to do what He is calling me to. But I get tripped up. When Peter walked out of that boat and onto the water, his eyes were focused on Christ. It was Jesus that was empowering Peter to walk on water. But there was a storm around him. His focus turned from Christ and onto the waves, the danger, and the storm. Immediately, Peter went under the water. That’s the story of my life. Well, I’ve never walked on water..”
I wanted to grab a piece of paper and start taking notes. Class was in session and I was the student!
I said, “I like where you’re going with this. I’d like to hear more.”
They continued, “I feel like, when challenges come up, I am quick to focus on the storm. It doesn’t matter if it’s at work or home. My initial response is worry and anxiety. I think what God is teaching me is that if I would keep my eyes on Him, He is going to supply every single thing I need. Both what I ask Him for and what I don’t even know to ask for.”
The paused for just a minute. “One other thing that I can’t get over. Jesus didn’t end the storm or calm the waves. Peter’s circumstances didn’t change. His focus did. As long as Peter trusted Christ and kept his eyes on Him, he was able to walk on water. I think the same is true for us.”
Wow. That will preach! I asked, “So what do we with that wisdom? I agree with you 100%. How do you apply that to your life?”
“It all comes down to trust. Regardless how big the challenge is, I have an opportunity to trust God and anticipate that He is already at work in my heart, in my circumstances, and in the lives of the other people that are involved. I move from anxiety to anticipation by trusting in God and keeping my focus on Him.”
“It all comes down to trust.”
Maybe you are like me - maybe not - but, often my initial response to crisis or interruptions is anxiety. One of the things I am working on (or God is working on me) is being quicker to trust in Him. I know that God is always at work, but there are times it takes me awhile to get my heart in alignment with God’s.
What is your storm this week? Regardless of how big or small it is, God desires for you to trust Him through it. The peace, courage, and strength you need to endure it - only God can give. I want to encourage you to trust Him today. Keep your eyes focused on Christ. What He is able to do in and through us when our hearts are fully trusting in Him is incredible. Peter walked on water. I wonder what miracle He will do in you.
You may not walk on water, but God may give you peace in the midst of the loss of a loved one or a major challenge at work. You may not walk on water, but God may give you the courage to step out of your comfort zone and lean into something that is eternally significant but terrifying.