“Come,” he said. 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!” Matthew 14:29 – 30
While on my retreat, I took to walking along the lakeshore. It was a very peaceful walk among the trees. As I walked, I enjoyed looking at the various other plants and listening to the water lap up on the shore and of course the honking of the many Canadian geese flying around the area.
One day I walked a little farther and came across a tree that had fallen. It had broken off at the trunk about two feet up from the ground and the tree, still attached was stretched out about twenty-five feet along the ground. I started to step over and walk on, but it reminded me of the balance beam we would be required to do in high-school gym classes when we got to the gymnastics section. We had to try all the equipment if I remember correctly but we could settle on one. I settled on the balance beam. Not that I was that good at it. But I could do a proper mount and dismount. I could walk across the beam without too much trouble, and I could even do a few of the very basic skills. Not well but I didn’t fall off, which for me was a win.
So, I stopped. I didn’t step over the tree but stood there looking at it wondering if, fifty years later, I could at least walk across that tree trunk without falling off. And I did it! Several times. At my age, I take all the wins I can get. I quickly realized as I walked back and forth across that tree, which by the way was only just a little wider than a traditional balance beam, that I needed to look down the tree and not at my feet in order to keep my balance. I only missed-stepped once when a bunch of those geese came in for a landing and I took my eyes off what I was doing and watched them.
After a while, I resumed my walk but began to think about balance. I realized that in order to maintain balance in my life, I need to pay attention to what I am doing as I also look down the road. Watching what is just right in front of me or at my feet, doesn’t let me see any obstacles in advance so I can avoid them.
Even more important, I need to keep my focus on what I am doing and not worry about what others are doing around me. Even if they are only geese. When I lose my focus, I become like Peter when he was walking on water. As long as he was looking at Jesus, he was successful. As soon as he took his attention off Jesus and began to pay attention to the storm around him, he began to sink.
The same is true for us. We can maintain our balance in life as long as we don’t let our focus be on the storms in life. And right now, my life feels like one big storm! But, when we only focus on what is going wrong, we can get very overwhelmed, and we get caught up in the chaos. It will sink us when we do.
What I am noticing is this: It isn’t just me; we all have a lot going on in life. It seems that since Covid, life has become very chaotic. It is not little minor inconveniences but the big things in life that are coming fast and furious. It is easy to get distracted and it is easy to want to escape. It is not a good idea to run away from the hard stuff. We have to walk through it in order to get to the other side. There is no other way around, no quick fix.
But in working through all that has become part and parcel of life, both good and bad, we do have a choice. We can focus only on all that is wrong, or we can deal with the difficulties as we choose to focus on what is good. And when we do, we will find there is more that is good in our lives than there are difficulties.