‘But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”’ Matthew 14:30
Well, have you ever felt it? That sinking feeling, when your feet go from under you; your legs have become jelly and your foundations appear to have given way beneath you. Inside, you feel this strange sensation of dread as your interior world collapses in on itself – the walls of your world are falling in all around you. Peter felt this acutely as he sank into the waters of Galilee. How ironic, one moment he was walking on water like Jesus – no man other than Jesus has ever done this – and yet the next moment Peter is drowning!
Surely we’ve all experienced those moments when we didn’t know whether the Lord was with us or had abandoned us. Even when Jesus was with His disciples walking on the lake they didn’t recognise Him (they thought He was a ghost! – Something sinister). How many times do we feel the Lord has left us to fend for ourselves or even that the devil has gained the victory over us – when in fact, the Lord has His eye on us the whole time and He is coming to us in our storms saying, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).
There are so many lessons in this story for us but please note this one today – Peter began to sink in the icy waters because he took his eyes off Jesus and fixed them on the wind and the waves. The elements distracted him. Where the stormy conditions real or were they all in his head? Of course, they were real and it was natural for anyone to have huge misgivings in such an unnatural, indeed, supernatural scenario. How would you or I have faired in Peter’s place? Yet, there is a critical lesson for us here. Whilst there were plenty of real fear factors for Peter in that moment: the weather, the waves, gravity etc the truest reality was that he was in the presence of the Christ! It was when Peter overlooked that fact or at least allowed the noisier, boisterous elements to distract from this true reality that he began to sink.
Many Christians are sinking at this moment because they have fastened their gaze on the angry conditions around them. Their focus has been there so long that they are dropping into the deep dark waters What has been distracting you and turning your head and your gaze off Jesus? COVID-19? Vaccines? Brexit? USA elections? False Prophesy? Conspiracy theories? Crusades over secondary doctrinal issues? The list is potentially endless. Of course, these are all real issues in our world today and in the church and some of them may warrant attention but none of these is worthy of fixing our eyes on at the expense of BEHOLDING JESUS!
The sad truth is we are not beholding the glory of the Son of God if our attention is so easily detoured to lesser things. How we suffer for this heedlessness – we sink. People are sinking, marriages are sinking, children are sinking, communities are sinking, nations are sinking, churches are sinking, ministries are sinking.
A plea: for your sake and the sake of the church, don’t entertain anything that draws your contemplation from Jesus and His love. This is the place of safety and security- engrossment and absorption with His face and the consciousness that whatever is going on around you or within you, however tumultuous, you are in the presence of the One who said, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
So if you feel that sinking feeling, like Peter, look to Jesus and cry out as he did, “Lord, save me!”
I think that most, if not all of our troubles ultimately derive from inattentiveness to Jesus and His love.
As I conclude writing this devotional a song has just played on my playlist – I leave it with you today:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.