Headed for the ditch?
by Kris Williams
(Pearl, Mississippi, USA)
Lost your focus???
Many years have passed since I took Driver's Ed...and I don't think I paid much attention anyway. There is, however, one specific thing that my Driver's Ed teacher told me that I will NEVER forget.
"Kris, if you don't stay focused on the road, we are going to end up in the ditch!!!!!!!!"
See, my mind is prone to wander and all sorts of things catch my eye as I am driving. What my Driver's Ed teacher soon found out was that my car went in whatever direction I was looking. So, if I saw an interesting tree on the side of the road.....we were headed for the ditch.
I recently learned a valuable truth that reminded me of my Driver's Ed teacher and the ditch incident. That truth has proven as valuable to my spiritual walk as anything I have learned thus far. I'll tell you all about it and, should you choose to apply this to every trial and trouble you go through, it will save you restless nights of worry, the anxiety associated with plotting revenge, and the terrible feelings of bitterness, anger, resentment, fear, and unforgiveness.
"If you don't stay focused on Christ, you are headed for the ditch!"
Perhaps you have heard this truth presented another way.... "In the storms of life, keep your eyes on Christ and you won't sink into the crashing waves."
Take a moment and read Matthew 14:22-33. Now, look closely at verses 28-31.
28 "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
29 "Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" Matthew 14:28-31 (NIV)
We all will face terrible storms in this life. We will have troubles in this world. Jesus himself said so. (John 16:33) Everything we need to know to survive a stormy season of life is contained in the story of Peter walking on the water.
1. The best thing to do is to STAY focused on Jesus, NOT the storm.
Peter did not sink until he shifted his focus from Jesus onto the wind. When he focused on the wind (the storm, the trial, the troubles) he became afraid and began to sink.
2. If you miss step one and find yourself sinking in the waves (of depression, doubt, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, revenge, judgment, fear, panic, etc.) then CALL OUT to Jesus!
Once Peter realized he was sinking, he called out to Jesus and Jesus saved him.
Sounds easy enough. Sadly, it is not so easy, at least not for me. I want to take care of things myself. I worry about the "what ifs". Staying focused on Jesus is harder than it sounds when you are in the middle of the raging seas of divorce or cancer, or infertility, or death, or betrayal, etc. You must make a conscious effort to CHOOSE to stay focused on Christ Jesus, and when you lose your focus and start to sink, call out to you Jesus, the one who saves!
To be victorious takes effort. Thanks be to God that Jesus finishes John 16:33 by telling us that HE has already overcome the world. We need not fear. We serve a MIGHTY God!
I have to ask myself on occasion if I truly believe that God is in control and remind myself that I can't select the things that He is in control of. He is either Almighty or He is not. I have to remind myself that God knows the big picture and the WHOLE story and He has a perfect plan that I may or may not understand. Finally, I have learned that when I give in to my flesh and fight my own battles, I most times make things worse and almost never experience the joy of seeing what God did through my storm.
Are you headed for the ditch? Have you lost your focus? Have you taken your eyes off of the One who Saves you and focused instead on the waves crashing around you? What things consistently steal your focus?
Do you, beloved child of the Most High God, truly believe that God is in control?
Which best fits your attitude about victorious living, "Victory in Jesus" or "Victory through my own strength and power"?
You are Almighty. You are All Powerful. I do trust that you have got my life held in your hand. I am so sorry that I lose sight of your face and focus instead on my troubles and on those who would cause me pain. Help me Father to always strive to be near to You above all else. Forgive me for wanting to do things my way and for acting as judge and jury in situations I don't fully understand. I trust you Father and I do believe that you have everything under control. I want to live my life victoriously and I know that this is only possible when I follow YOU whole heartedly.
Next month we will talk about how to be victorious when the storm is on the horizon!
See you then!