And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, it is a phantom! And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer, I AM! Do not fear”. And Peter answered Him and said, “LORD, if it is You, tell me to come to You on the water”. And He said, “Come”. And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing that the wind was strong, he was afraid. And beginning to sink, he cried, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him; and said to him, “Little-faith! Why did you doubt?”
Matthew 14:25-31 MKJV
We’ve all been there. Life is good, work’s going well, the kids are being good, things with the wife haven’t been better. Praise God! You’re at church on Sunday encouraging people at the front or in the coffee shop afterwards. You’re leading from the front being intentional with your faith. You may even be encouraging a colleague at work or a friend outside of church. You’re on fire sharing the good news that we are conquerors, co-heirs and overcomers.
Then the storm hits. The boss is forever on your case. The work environment’s toxic. The kids have turned into midget terrorists causing destruction everywhere they go, or your teenagers blow up at you just because you said good morning to them! You go to your wife for comfort and she starts to tell you everything you’ve been doing wrong for the last 6 months. There’s dark clouds everywhere and you can’t seem to find a way out. Then he comes.
Jesus comes along telling you to focus on him. Yes there’s problems, yes there’s a storm, but he is the one who calms the storm (Mark 4:36-41). So you step out of the boat, eyes fixed firmly on Jesus who will make everything better. You’re walking on water, on the waves thinking “I can do this! Jesus is right there. I’m going to be OK”. Then the next thunderclap hits and you’re sinking. “HELP ME!” you cry. You reach your hand out and Jesus pulls you out and put you back in the boat. The storm has calmed for the time being and you ask yourself “Why do I doubt? I KNOW Jesus has got me every time so why am I struggling?” You go to church on Sunday, you answer the alter call, some brothers pray with you and you feel good again until Monday morning when you go back into work to try and make a seemingly impossible deadline. Where did your faith go?
Studies have shown that people born deaf have better eyesight than those who can hear. The belief is in part because there are no audio distractions, they can focus more on what’s in front of them. In the same way, we should be the same. When we’re focusing on Jesus, when we’re looking right at him, the world will try to distract us with screams and white noise. We know that it’s a lie but in the moment, it can become all consuming. When it overcomes us, when the storm takes our attention, we lose sight of Jesus. And then we sink.
How do we combat this? Spiritual ear muffs. Ear muffs reduce and block the noise from outside so we can focus more on what’s in front of us. Ear muffs also help to reduce the damage caused by excessive exposure to loud noises. If we put on our spiritual ear muffs we can block out the noise from the enemy that so desperately wants us to take our focus off Jesus. Our spiritual ear muffs can reduce the damage from exposure to the screams of the world that so desperately wants to drag us down. “What are these amazing things you speak of?” I hear you ask. Gods word! Living, breathing and active today just as it was thousands of years ago. When we fill ourselves up with his word, we can start to combat the attacks of the enemy, we can drown out and even block the noise that he throws at us trying to get us to fall. When the world tells you you’re not good enough, God tells us we were formed in his perfect image. When the world tells us we will never succeed, God tells us we are more than conquerors. When you’re ashamed because you’ve gone back to your secret sin, God tells us there is no guilt or condemnation. When the enemy tries to tell you that you’ve fallen too far for God to still love you, God tells us he will never leave us or forsake us. The more of his word we have within us, the easier it gets to block the noise of the enemy trying to change our focus.
We are in a battle daily for our very souls. And we know the tricks the enemy uses to get us to fall. But we know our enemy. He’s not smart, he’s just devious. Sneaky. He doesn’t use any new tricks, just the same old ones he always has. And our God is stronger than all of them put together. By keeping God’s word in your heart, you put on your spiritual earmuffs and can block the tired old screams of the enemy. He may try to shout a little louder but our spiritual earmuffs will block the noise because right in front of us in our direct line of sight is the truth. Our God is stronger!
We were never promised an easy life. We know that there will be seasons where it’s not great, it’s stormy and our only choice is to push through. And there in the storm we find our confidence, in the storm we find our strength. With God’s word in our heart and our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus, he will take us through the storm. Not over, under or around, but through. And when he takes us through we will hear the screams no more…