Fixing Our Focus by Mary Bass Gray
I would imagine you have heard the question, “How big is your God?” I love proclaiming that there is nothing too big for my God! Who is His equal? ‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.' (Jeremiah 32:17) ESV And there is nothing that He and I can’t do together.
I am ashamed to say there are times when I am stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious. How can that be when I know how BIG my God is and WHO He is? I know the answer to my question. I have lost my focus. I have set my eyes on circumstances instead of fixing my eyes on Jesus.
A perfect illustration of looking at difficult circumstances that surround us and taking our eyes off of Jesus is Matthew 14:22-33. You probably know the story. This is the account where Jesus sends His disciples out in the boat ahead of Him while He wrapped up with the crowd of more than five thousand people that He had just fed. He then went to a place to pray alone.
By the time He finished praying, it was evening, and the boat was a considerable distance from land. The wind was blowing and buffeting the waves, but Jesus stepped out onto the sea and started walking on the water toward the boat. When the disciples saw this “ghost,” they were terrified. Jesus told them it was He and to not be afraid. Peter replied, “Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus said, “Come.” Peter got down out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind and the waves, he became afraid and started to sink, crying out to Jesus, “LORD, save me!” He began to sink because he had taken his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the impossible circumstances surrounding him. He was about to drown!
We are a lot like Peter. We fix our eyes on Jesus, but when the winds and waves of life start to blow and wash over us, we lose our focus. We become fearful, just as Peter did, and we start to sink. Then, when we relinquish control back to Jesus, we cry out for Him to save us. And our loving, patient, kind, gentle and compassionate Jesus hears our pleas and responds to us as He did to Peter.
Upon Peter’s cry, Jesus immediately reached out His hand and caught him. He said to Peter, “You of little faith; why did you doubt?” This miracle was recorded not only for a teaching moment for Peter and the disciples, but for you and me to learn and understand that when we begin to sink in unwelcome and difficult circumstances, we are to fix our focus on things above, putting our faith and trust in the one who saves us. Oh, we of little faith! Why do we doubt; why do we worry; why are we afraid? The troubling circumstance may continue, but we are to remember we have an everlasting relationship with our big God and know that He is always with us and will deliver us as we turn our fear into faith.
It’s not always a difficult circumstance that causes us to lose focus. Sometimes, we get distracted and let the things of this world disrupt our joy and peace. There are daily battles that we face. We let small, insignificant, mundane things get to us. We may even have wild imaginings of what we think could be happening as we try to figure things out ourselves. Sometimes I get discouraged by things I have absolutely no control over! It may be just fatigue and frustration while tending to daily tasks. I am so thankful my big God is in the midst of all my messes, and all my successes!
It is hard to always keep an eternal perspective on circumstances when it seems everywhere we look, the world is turned upside down. As I write this, it is spring, 2021, and we are just coming out of the COVID crisis in our country that became a pandemic spread across the globe. We became fearful of this deadly disease, not knowing what to expect.
People were dying by the thousands in our country. Businesses, restaurants, movie theaters, and parks shut down. Schools were closed and even our churches! Everything came to a halt! We had to quarantine ourselves and wear masks when we ventured out. If that weren’t enough, we experienced horrible violence and unrest in our nation. What a tumultuous year 2020 was, and the tumult continues! I have had to lessen and limit my daily dose of national news. It’s too disturbing to my mental wellness!
Jesus told us, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) I take great comfort in that. I am reminded that I can look up and pray to the One who is all powerful (His power is infinite and limitless), all knowing (He knows the end from the beginning), and ever-present (There is never anywhere that God isn’t!).
Another account of the disciples becoming terrified in a boat is found in Mark 4:35-41. This time, Jesus was in the boat with them. A great storm arose, and the swells and waves swept over the boat. Jesus was sleeping, so the disciples woke him saying, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Peace, be still.” Then He asked His disciples why they were so afraid? “Do you still have no faith?” They asked each other, “Who is this that even the wind and the waves obey him?” They still did not understand who He was.
This teaching moment for Jesus’ disciples is recorded for future generations (us) as a reminder that even in the midst of crashing waves and strong winds that blow through our lives, or even just daily disturbances, He is with us and can quiet our anxious hearts. We can trust the One who gives us peace, rest, and security.
So, back to the original question, “How big is your God?” When God came to us in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man, He did many miracles. He walked on water, He spoke to the wind and waves, and even they obeyed him. Take heart, dear friends, God is involved in His world and He is involved in your world. He knows all about you…your heart and your thoughts...and has made Himself accessible to you. Do not be anxious when everything around you seems to be falling apart, or you are just plain tired and sick and tired of being tired! Rest in Him! Don’t fret!
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Three things to do each day to acknowledge your big God, fixing your focus on Him, and drawing near to Him for comfort, peace, and joy for each new day:
1.Start your morning in prayer. In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice, in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. NIV (Psalm 5:3)
2. Pray throughout the day.Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. NIV (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
3. When you go to bed. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. NIV (Psalm 4:8)
Scripture tells us “…He who watches over you will not slumber…” NIV (Psalm 121:3) Since God never sleeps, we can rest because “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because He trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3 ESV
Keep your focus on your big God and be at peace. He knows all that we need, right when we need it!
Mary Bass Gray
Mary Gray is a wife, mother of three grown sons, mother-in-law, and Nonnie to eight grandchildren. She loves Jesus and loves to share His love with other women through teaching, speaking, and writing. She has found much joy mentoring young women, in particular military wives, since she was a military wife herself for twenty years, following her soldier all over the world before his retirement in 1988. She is a Louisiana native, who presently resides in the far Northwest corner of North Carolina surrounded by God’s beauty.