Meditations on “God of Transformation: 18: Are the distractions too great?
Matt 14:30 when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
There are things and people in life who distract or pull us away from faith. Obviously there are unbelievers who may deride us and what we think and believe but it is both much bigger and much smaller than that. It is bigger in that we live in a nation that is predominantly godless and therefore their outlook on life is godless. They are materialistic and only materialistic and so if we listen to them our faith will be quenched. Materialistic teachers are part of this whether they are unbelieving Religious Studies teachers or materialistic science teachers or materialistic sociology or psychology teachers, they all present a godless world view and the enemy seeks to use that to quench faith in believers.
But it is in the small personal things as well that we find faith-quenchers or faith distracters. Quite honestly it can be a headache or migraine or some other debilitating physical thing that pulls us down and makes us feel les than able to step out in faith. It come be someone’s criticism or negative words generally that can have the same effect. The truth is that we are in a battle to overcome distractions or things that would quench our faith. We can start out well but get sandbagged by the enemy along the way, or sometimes it can be just the ordinary things of life that suddenly get to us and pull us off course or distract us from our goals, just like Peter.
Our verse above, you possibly know well, comes from the account of when Jesus sent the disciples off in the boat at night and then appeared to them walking across the water. The sight quite naturally scared the life out of them and so Jesus calls across the water to reassure them. It was at that point that Peter said something that made him unique among men: “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” (v.28) For a second something rose up in Peter and seeds of faith were birthed. For a moment he believed and KNEW that if that was Jesus and he could do that then he could get Peter to do it as well. Normally it is impossible to walk on water but Jesus was not bound by the possible or impossible, he was (and is) God. And for a second Peter knew it. He had to or he wouldn’t have called out like that. I don’t know if you’ve ever had those moments when you have spoken out and you realise what you are saying is true, and that it was a statement of inspired faith; I have, but then you suddenly hit a wall of reality and think, “Oh my goodness, what have I just said,” but the faith is still there and it holds you firm. You know it is true.
So there is Peter making himself available for the most unique of human experiences and he waits. Then comes the voice, no, the command, from across the water, “Come!” and he steps over the side of the boat hardly realizing what he is doing and walks on the water. Yes, at the moment in time, apart from the Son of God he is the only person in history to be able to walk on water.
And then there is the distraction. If he had kept his eyes on Jesus only, he would have been all right but he is suddenly aware of the wind, and no doubt the waves, and he allows himself to be focused on them and he starts sinking. Disaster! But not quite, because Jesus was there to catch him and lift him back into the boat. What a confused bundle he must have been at that moment. The proud side of him would want to burble out to the others, “Hey, guys, did you see that, I walked on water!” but then there was the other side of him that was aware that he had blown it part way and had needed to be rescued.
But what an amazing picture: a fisherman who sails on the water who was transformed into a man who walks on the water; let’s not lose sight of that. What brought about the transformation? First of all it was the presence of Jesus. We can only ever step out in faith in the presence of Jesus. It is his words and his presence that transforms us from godless unbelievers into faith-filled miracle workers! It is knowing His will and sometimes we have to ask him to clarify it, just like Peter did. “Lord, is this you, is this you asking me to do this thing?” And then we listen with anticipation and when the word comes, faith bursts forth in us and we step out. That’s what this spiritual life is all about, about being people of faith because without faith we cannot please the Lord (Heb 11:6). It’s about being a people who catch the voice coming across the waters of life that says, “Come!” and we just know it is him and we step out and do what no one else is doing! Awesome!
But then there are the distractions, the wind and the waves of life that grab for our attention when we are making the walk of faith, enabled by the Spirit, and the potential is suddenly there of drowning or at least sinking. As we step out on a new course, a new adventure with Jesus, a voice comes from over our shoulder, “Whatever are you doing? You must be crazy.” Don’t listen to it, focus on what He has called you to do, continue to walk by faith and not sight, and bless His heart. Ignore the faith quenchers or the faith distracters or even detractors, and stick to what you know you have heard and what has caused you to start out on this venture, and remember, you are a child of God and he is there for you, to see you through it to glory on the other side. If you falter, He still loves you and will be there to catch you, but that’s only a safety net that you don’t have to use. Stick with your faith, hang on in there, despite the wind and the waves. Go for it and keep going for it!