Reflecting back on yesterday’s post, I observed that in our times of greatest need, God often seems distant and detached from our situation. Of course, He is not… but WHY does it seem that way?
I don’t snow ski. But I know some folks who do. In the process of learning how to ski, they talk about crashing a lot – especially when they come to a point where they need to make a turn (to avoid a tree or other obstacle). There is a principle involved in turning properly, when you are skiing: Do not look where you are going – look where you want to go, and your body will go there. In other words, where you are looking becomes your reality!
This is the principle at work when God seems distant in our lives. We simply lose our focus on Him. Our distractions, our troubles and circumstances (the obstacles of our lives) cause our spiritual eyes to lose sight of the One Who is with us – as our gaze becomes fixed upon the issues at hand. God never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5) – but it sure can seem like He does, when all we can see is our trouble.
There is a wonderful illustration of this principle in the Bible. It is the account of Peter walking, with Jesus, on the water (Matthew 14). You know the story, the disciples are in a boat, headed across the lake, where Jesus will join them at a later time. All of a sudden, Jesus is sighted coming towards them… walking on the water!
After dealing with their fear, Peter does something amazing. He asks to join Jesus on the water! Jesus grants his request and Peter “got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.” (14:29)
Let’s pause right there… Peter was able to do exactly as Jesus was doing, because He knew Jesus was right there with Him. His eyes were focused on the Master, and his focus on Jesus allowed Peter to do the impossible. (There is so much to be learned, and applied, here – but we will leave that for another day.)
Peter’s miraculous moment was short-lived. The Bible tells us that “when he saw the wind” (14:30) Peter became afraid and began to sink beneath the waves.
In both instances, Peter’s focus became his reality. As long as his eyes were upon Jesus, Peter personally experienced a miracle. But as soon as his eyes shifted to his surroundings, he lost focus on Jesus, and he became ordinary once again. Jesus was, actually, still there – but, it was as if He wasn’t.
It is in those moments of our lives when the winds of trouble are howling all around us that it becomes so easy to lose sight of God’s presence with us. He IS with us… but all we can see is our troubles, our struggles, our fears, and our doubts.
The solution is profoundly simple. Do as Peter did. He suddenly remembered that Jesus was with him – and he simply cried out for help (14:30). The Bible tells us that “immediately Jesus reached out His Hand” and became real in Peter’s life once again.
The secret to a true faith is the realization that God is with us, even if it might seem like He isn’t – and our attention returns to Him as the Source of our help.
God loves those moments. He is longing to honor those moments when, in spite of our circumstances, we place our trust in Him.
When God seems distant, He has not abandoned us… He has provided us with a brand new opportunity to personally experience His faithfulness. Our part is to turn our eyes to see him, in faith.
Prayer focus: God, help me to fix my focus upon You in the storms of this life.