“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6)

    Written by Joe Smith

    The Apostle Paul wrote:

    “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2)

    This means that our main focus should be on Christ and not on any issues we face in this lifetime. God is strong enough to help us handle them so there is no need in trying to go it alone. Our focus should be on God.

    A story of focus

    The book of Matthew gives us a vivid demonstration of what the call to focus on things above looks like. The disciples were caught in the middle of the Sea of Galilee on an early windy morning when they witnessed an incredible miracle. The disciples were in the midst of fighting a storm when they saw “something” walking on the surface of the water! They thought it was a ghost at first, but realized it was Jesus. In all the chaos, He told them not to be afraid. Peter (one of the disciples) said to Jesus: “Lord, if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water” (Mat. 14:28). So, Jesus told Peter to come to him and that’s exactly what happened. Peter began walking on the water as well….and we are not talking about frozen water either!  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?’(14:30,31).

    Put yourself in Peter's shoes

    Put yourself in Peter’s shoes (or sandals) for a moment. Here you are in a boat during a storm in the middle of the night and you see a person walking on the water. That would be terrifying! When Jesus identified himself it didn’t change the fact that he was still walking on water. I think, by our standards, Peter showed amazing faith to step out onto the water and trust the reliability of Jesus. But there was a big problem. Peter started sinking. He took his eyes off of Jesus and started to focus on the wind which drove the waves instead. He showed fear, a fear which was rooted in a lack of faith. He became more worried about earthly things over things above.

    This is a great story for our lives today. There will be many “storms” in your life and Jesus is the only one we can fully rely on. As soon as you take your focus off of him you start to focus on the things of the world. Sadly, there have been many cases of people being swallowed up by their troubles and struggles as a result.

    What should your reaction be when you sink?

    Another key to this story is Peter’s reaction once he started to sink. Who did he call for, the other disciples? No. Did he start self motivating himself, saying he could get out of this? Of course not! He called out to Jesus and Jesus reached out his hand. When we call on the Lord he will always be there for us. I like to think Jesus had his hand out the entire time Peter was walking on the water. He will never forsake us and we are called to have faith in his promises. You will have tough times in and out of the arena. This is part of life, it’s part of being a hockey player. The big questions you have to ask yourself in these moments are:

    1. What is your focus?
    2. What do you run to when the storms of life kick up?
    3. Do you trust that God is powerful enough to keep you from sinking? 

    I remember being released from a Junior team late in the off season. I scrambled and was able to get a tryout with another team…only to be cut on the first day of the regular season. I couldn’t believe that God would put me through these ups and downs just to pull hockey out from under me. However, I trusted that God had the right plan and I decided to try and get on with life apart from hockey even though it was such a big part of my life. I went to one day of classes at my local University and received a call from the Coach the next day. He said he had made a mistake and wanted me back on the team. I was there for dinner and went on to play my final 2 seasons on a team I thought I would never see again.

    I still don’t know why things worked out the way they did, but maybe it had to do with focus. In one of those small “storms” in my life God had his hand out and was waiting for me to grab hold. When we focus on him we are able to experience peace and joy that only he can give.

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