Avoiding a Spiritual Stumble
"'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." Matthew 14:29-30 (NLT)
The loud noise and screams suddenly coming from upstairs caused immediate panic.
That morning my daughter had set out to run a few miles on our treadmill. Everything was going just fine until the worst happened.
She lost her focus, then her balance, and stumbled. The treadmill violently threw her off and trapped her between the mat, the floor and the wall. She managed to wiggle free, but not before the treadmill wreaked havoc on her back, legs and arms.
When tears dried and Band Aids had been gently placed over the raw wounds, I asked her how the accident happened. It turned out she had a lot going on besides just running. For example, a blaring television, incoming text messages (which of course needed urgent attention), a loose shoelace and fatigue in her legs.
There were a lot of distractions that caused her to fall, and she was too weak to regain her balance. She vowed then and there to never get back on another treadmill. Ever.
My daughter's tumble is a lot like what happens in our Christian walk. We fully intend to stay focused on Christ, but life's distractions cause us to shift our focus, stumble in our faith and leave us feeling too beaten down to get back up.
Matthew 14:29 shows us how Peter took a tumble of sorts when he lost his focus. Peter and the disciples were caught in a terrible storm with their boat being tossed around by torrential waves. When Peter saw Jesus standing on the water, he asked to do the same thing. Let's pick up the story there: "'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" (Matt. 14:29-30).
When waves of fear, insecurity, discouragement or stress crash around me, I stumble too. These quickly become my focus instead of fixing my eyes on Jesus. Without fail, I sink under the weight of these circumstances and fall.
My "fall" looks like this: instead of praying, I worry about my dad's health. Rather than praising God and looking to Him for provision, I stress about paying bills. And instead of trusting He will help me complete a task at hand, I doubt if I'm able to get everything on my agenda done. All these distractions pull me down and pull my faith away from Jesus.
Here is the amazing thing about Jesus. When Peter began sinking, he cried out for Jesus to save him. And Jesus did. Just as Jesus didn't hesitate to pull Peter out of the rough waves, He will pull you and me back too as soon as we ask.
Life has stormy seasons. Unexpected health diagnoses', years when children decide to walk away from the Lord, rough patches in our marriage ... all cause waves of doubt, stress, worry or fear. These can cause us to stumble and fall if we only focus on them.
The best place to fix our eyes is on Jesus. He's our peace, source of hope, and the One person we can trust will always be there for us. And when we do fall, as soon as we call out to Him, He'll pick us up.
Dear Jesus, I confess I lose focus on You while running through the distractions of life. I have fallen many times. Help me to trust and have faith in You, and avoid letting life distract me from Your truths. Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
In what ways has life been distracting you, causing you to inadvertently lose focus on Christ?
Close your eyes and visualize yourself standing in a storm looking at Jesus. Be bold and walk towards Him. Have faith that no matter how much life has caused you to get sidetracked, He is ready to reach out and pull you close once again.
Proverbs 4:25-27, "Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don't get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil." (NLT)
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