A crappy day.
It happens to the best of us.
Surely you’ve been there…
You hit snooze one too many times, and from the moment your feet hit the floor the fire hose inundates you with its early morning demands.
The kids act like barbaric doped-up monkeys secretly planning a coup against the powers that be, meltdowns beginning before you’ve had a chance to enjoy your coffee and Jesus in peace.
Your clumsy zombie-self somehow knocks a cup of freshly-brewed wonderfulness onto the ground, ceramic mug and glimmer of hope shattered to pieces.
You stub your pinky toe on that same stinking table leg like 4,000 times…and it’s only 7am.
You start to sweat trying to get your hair to FREAKING cooperate because you have an appointment to get to in 20 minutes.
And you find your face rebelling against the day, your scowl apparently not fooling anyone…
…because your sweet husband so sensitively asks “is it that time of month, babe?”
Yeah. That kind of day.
One of THOSE days
Last month I had one of those days. Or at least it started that way.
I woke up feeling a tad bit hormonal, my breakfast smoothie spilled violently out of the bottom of the blender, and my coffee tasted like cigarette butts.
I know, first world problems, but still. I was a grumpy pants.
On top of that, I had a lot on my mind and was struggling through some negative thoughts. I found myself in a situation the night before that caused me to replay the scenario over and over in my mind. I felt overwhelmed with emotion and frustration and anger.
So I did what I like to do when I have a bad day: I went running.
For my family’s survival and my own sanity.
And after running and processing through my thoughts for about 30 minutes through lush, wooded trails I rounded a corner and the most beautiful sight stopped me in my tracks.
The castle on the hill of our sweet little Bavarian village shone majestically in the mid-morning sun.
And in that moment, as I emerged from the shadows and into the light, eyes focused on the castle, I was reminded of a timeless truth.
I was reminded of the importance of keeping an eternal perspective.
Because moments before I was swimming in a sea of negative thoughts, but when I rounded that corner and the beauty of the castle caught my gaze, my perspective changed.
And I was reminded of the story in Matthew 14 of Jesus and Peter walking on the water.
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33, emphasis mine)
Sinking in Circumstances
Peter started out so well. His eyes were fixed on Jesus. His faith was in Jesus’ ability to enable him to walk on water.
But in the moment Peter turned his focus from Jesus and onto his circumstances, he became afraid and began to sink.
Oh, I so identify with Peter!
How easy it is to turn away from my Savior and focus on my circumstances.
How easy it is get frustrated with my children and my husband, turning a minor annoyance into a royal offense.
How easy it is to get exasperated by daily interruptions and inconveniences and busyness and chaos.
How easy it is to drown in the emotional overwhelm of an argument or an offense or a trial.
How easy it is to become utterly preoccupied with circumstances that, in light of eternity, are truly trivial.
But in these verses we also see two encouraging truths:
1. A Gospel-Centered Focus: When we keep our focus on Jesus, He can enable us to do whatever He calls us to.
2. A Gracious Savior: Even when we begin to sink, Jesus, in His grace, is willing and able to save us when we call to Him and repent of our unbelief.
A Gospel-Centered Focus
Peter begins in this story with such admirable faith! He was the only disciple who was willing to get out of the boat and follow Jesus.
And in the moment His focus was on Jesus and His ability, He was able to do the miraculous.
And in the same way, when I focus on Jesus and His sovereignty and His provision and His ability to do whatever He calls me to, I am able to follow Him with faith and trust.
The questions I have to continually ask myself, are:
Where is my focus?
Is it on my circumstances? Or is it on Jesus?
In the times we struggle, we must fight to maintain an eternal perspective. To remember the big picture.
That God is in control and in Him we find hope and joy and rest.
That Jesus is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20).
That we are but a “mist that appears for little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14), and that our focus should remain not merely on our present circumstances, but on the things that make a difference for eternity.
And when I was running that morning, by the grace of God, my focus was shifted from my circumstances back onto the glory of God and His eternal purposes.
And when I keep this eternal perspective:
-I can see trials as an opportunity for God to strengthen my faith and glorify Himself through the trial.
-I can see my marriage as a picture of God’s relationship with His bride, the church, and serve and love my husband selflessly and joyfully.
-I can see my children as a blessing and relish in the opportunity to disciple their sweet little hearts and point them to Jesus.
-I can live beyond survival mode and move through each day with purpose and anticipation of what God wants to do in and through me.
A Gracious Savior
The good news? Even when we slip up and lack faith and become afraid like Peter did, Jesus is still our gracious Savior.
When we find ourselves drowning in our circumstances, the key is to catch ourselves and repent. Jesus always stands ready to reach out to us as He did to Peter, and lift us out of the deep waters of unbelief and fear.
Like Peter, I’ve often had to stop myself in the middle of my own little freak-out session, repent of my lack of faith, and call out to Jesus.
And Jesus is always faithful to pull me out of the pit of my own making.
And at the moment I saw the castle and was reminded of the glory of God and eternity, my frustration and anger dissipated.
I realized that this seemingly overwhelming circumstance was really small fries compared to the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).
My focus was shifted from my circumstances and onto Jesus and eternity and the gospel.
Joy and hope were renewed.
And my crappy morning turned into a day of rejoicing in my Savior.
I’d love to hear from you!
What circumstances tend to steal your focus from Jesus and overwhelm you?
When have you found yourself drowning in your circumstances?
How can the story of Peter encourage you to keep your focus on Jesus?
When have you shifted your focus from your circumstances onto Jesus and found joy and peace?