On the Side - September 2016
by Sharon Chatwell
Maybe I should clarify that statement. Sometimes, when I take my eyes off Jesus, I become afraid.
Let’s face it, there’s plenty out there in the big, bad world to make any reasonable person afraid. Things are changing rapidly and they don’t even always seem to be changing for the better. Even some of the recent changes in Medicine are disturbing. And the idea that patient care could be adversely affected is enough to make any physician feel concern. As physician spouses, this affects us too.
Yes, there’s a long list of things going in our world that seem frightening. In some cases, it seems like common sense and wisdom have been completely dismissed; not as if they are unnecessary, but as if they are bad things in and of themselves.
It’s frightening. But being afraid doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t even help you.
Natural fears, of course, like fear for personal safety or fear of falling, etc. are reasonable. But other fears, like being afraid that something might not work out, are simply worthless. They are a waste of time. That kind of fear can slow you down or stop you dead in your tracks. It can even keep you from doing the good things you know to do. For these reasons, for a believer, fear is a problem.
The Bible tells us not to be afraid. In John 14:27 Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (NIV 2011).
Jesus said, “…do not be afraid.” This indicates we have some control over how concerned or afraid we are. And we do. Fear is actually the result of us taking our eyes off of Jesus and paying too much attention to what’s going on around us.
We even have a biblical example! It is a story of how Peter walked on the water with Jesus, and it is found in Matthew 14:22-33.
Peter is out in a boat with the rest of the disciples in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. They have been rowing all night and are having a hard time of it, because the wind and the waves are against them. Suddenly, the disciples see Jesus walking toward them on the water, and verse 26 says they were “terrified.”
“It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
I love Peter. Out of the boat he climbs. Can you imagine setting your foot down on the water and having it hold you up? Peter had been diving out of boats and swimming in this very lake all of his life; in the Gospels we have at least two different accounts of him doing so. But this time Peter didn’t dive out of the boat, and he didn’t swim either. This time he walked on top of the water!
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Peter was walking on the water! But then he took his eyes off Jesus and instead looked at the wind and the waves, then he began to sink!
That’s what happens to us. We are doing something, perhaps something BIG, something Jesus has clearly called us to do, and it’s working! Then all of a sudden we look around, we see the obstacles and the dangerous things around us, and we begin to sink. Now we can’t do anything; even the good stuff we were doing seems to stop. There is no cure for this, except to look again to Jesus and cry out (like Peter did) for the Lord to save us. We must put our eyes back on Jesus and ask Him to pull us up, back to where we should be.
He will do it. He may reprimand us a little, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” But Jesus will bring us safely where we need to be. And all those obstacles that seemed to be in the way, they disappear. Did you notice that when they climbed into the boat the wind died down immediately?
Think of your life and your spiritual walk as a walk on top of the water with Jesus. As long as you keep your eyes on Him and do what He says, you’ll be just fine. Ignore the other stuff. It just scares you.
I wrote a little poem once. It helped me. I hope that it helps you.
“Drown!” the devil tells me,
The others holler, “Swim!”
But Jesus bids me leave the boat
And simply come to Him.
The waves of life crash all around
And would swamp a son or daughter,
But Jesus tells us come to Him
And walk upon the water.
Sharon is a physician spouse (and evidently a poet as well) who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. She hopes that all of you will find your own way with Jesus, walking across the tops of the waves.