My daughter’s first grade teacher was super creative when it came to classroom management. If you’ve been around young children at all, you’re well aware how distracted they can become. Often when I went into Ms. DeLong’s classroom to volunteer, the kids would think my presence was a license to start talking and get off track. Very quickly, Ms. DeLong would start into her little routine with the kids: “Touch your nose. Touch your ear. Touch your knee. Touch your shoulder. Touch your chin.” Almost immediately, they were focused on her again and ready to be taught.
Another phrase I heard frequently as I walked the halls of the elementary school was “Eyes on me!” So many things in the halls can be a distraction to a small child who is supposed to be quietly following her teacher. “Eyes on me!”
The same can be said for us. We are so easily distracted, aren’t we? Especially when we are in a painful or confusing situation. All we can think about is our pain. All we can ponder are the “what ifs.” What if I do have cancer? What if something terrible happens to my child? What if my husband never gets another job? What if…what if…what if… And it seems like the more we try to avoid thinking about our circumstances, the more we feel hopeless to think about anything else!
How do we get out of that rut?
I think the answer is found in a story about a certain Messiah who walked on water. The story goes that after feeding the 5000 men (plus women and children), Jesus tells His disciples to go on ahead of Him in the boat; He wants some time alone to pray.
Many hours later, when the disciples were in the boat on rough waters, Jesus approaches them, walking on the water. The Scriptures say the disciples were terrified. Uh, ya think? I suspect some of them probably had to change their undergarments. But I digress…
Peter, ever the eager one, when He hears Jesus voice, wants to join Him and says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” He says.
And Peter did! He actually walked on water!
Until what? Do you remember the story? Do you remember what caused Peter to start to sink?
He saw the wind.
He saw the wind, and he began to sink.
When he looked at Jesus, he walked on water, but when he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at his scary surroundings, he began to sink.
I don’t know about you, but I CAN RELATE TO PETER! The wind in my life gets really frightening. It starts blowing and scaring me in all kinds of ways. I can look at my circumstances and think, “How am I going to fix this? What do I do? What’s going to happen? Will this ever change?” And suddenly I’m not focused on the One who can fix my circumstances, the One who is in control! My focus gets all crazy! And of course, then I feel like I’m sinking.
Peter was wise, however. When he realized he was sinking, he called on the One who could help. “Lord, save me!”
And do you know what Jesus said to him? “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?”
Does this seem a tad harsh to anyone but me? I mean after all, it’s not like walking on water—rough wavy water—is a daily occurrence!
It pays to know the context of this story. Do you remember what I said had happened right before Jesus told His disciples to get in the boat? He had fed the 5000+…with fives loaves of bread and two fish. Chew on that!
The disciples had JUST witnessed a marvelous miracle and then Peter, while experiencing ANOTHER miracle, took his eyes off of the Miracle Worker and looked at his circumstances.
How often do we do the same thing? When we become so focused on the present and forget what God has done, even recently, like maybe yesterday or a few minutes ago, then we fail to remember His might and His faithfulness. We can get tunnel vision and only see the current ugliness and neglect to see the beauty of how God has dealt with us in the past. It is amazing how choosing to think on God’s past goodness can give us courage to face our present circumstances with faith, a strong faith.
This story has been very real to me the last couple of months. As I no longer have a regular job (and paycheck!!), I have found myself being tempted to stare at the wind and waves clamoring around me. So I’ve developed a practice of mentally staring at Jesus. I literally focus my mind on seeing Him, my Miracle Worker, and I recount what I know to be true of Him—He’s good, He’s called me to this, He will provide. And in the process, I’m seeking to hear His still, small voice, saying, “Eyes on me!”
I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. ~Psalm 16:8
I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me. ~Psalm 13:6