For the most part I live a pretty calm life. Being on no one’s payroll but the Lord’s, I try to stay quietly productive, dreaming up the next project and then setting to work to bring it about. The writer in me likes to stay focused.
But lately I have had a hard time focusing. Not because I don’t want to, but because, like everyone else, I sometimes get too busy.
We all know what it’s like to be busy. But what is this discipline of focusing all about? It’s about intentionally choosing to pay attention to the one thing that really matters. Focusing on what matters becomes all the more important when you are bombarded by distractions (oftentimes electronic) and by interruptions which may demand your personal and immediate response.
Yet vocationally we know deep down that our real focus must be somewhere else. Above all the crush and chaos of daily life, we must constantly remember that we are baptized into One who transcends everything that would pull us down and invites us to do the same. What else, after all, was Jesus teaching (and Peter trying valiantly to learn) in that scene late at night on the stormy sea?
All of the busyness, the distractions, and interruptions, including those that are necessary and even worthy, can make you feel important and purposeful. But they don’t necessarily lead you to actually focus on the Lord and on his invitation which is the source of your real purpose.
And what is that invitation? In that “late night stormy sea” passage in Matthew 14, Jesus’ one-word invitation to Peter is, quite simply, “Come” (v. 29). Peter rightly could have looked at the waves, then looked at his Lord and replied, “Really?” But what that one-word invitation really means is: Let go your grip, move from the secure center of the boat, hoist yourself as gracefully as you can over the edge, and walk toward the One whose intense love and encouragement are enough to sustain you.
For a brief moment Peter trusted that the One who called him could sustain him. But Peter took his eyes off the Lord, got distracted by the storm, and foolishly assumed that the threat of getting in over his head was greater than the invitation itself.
Did Jesus not understand the laws of physics? Or was he simply joking around with Peter to make him play the fool before his peers?
Or, possibly, was Jesus speaking to Peter the same invitation he speaks to every one of us, to you and to me? “Come,” he says in the most unlikely moment. We might understandably respond, “But Lord, can’t you see there’s a horrendous scary gulf between you and me? That it’s the dead of night? And that my life is in the midst of a storm?”
Does Jesus sometimes get his timing off? Does he sometimes ask impossible things of us, forgetting all the logical reasons why we cannot possibly respond? Or is it we who cannot grasp the invitation for all the obstacles and distractions and interruptions in our lives?
For myself, I need to discern that invitation often. I know that living my particular calling generously is what I need to defend from the thousand distractions that would pull me off mission. I need to actively defend that mission and remove whatever blocks my view of Jesus.
Most important, I need to defend the space of the Lord’s calling, not because that space is calm but because it is the space of challenge and sheer faith. You know that space in your own life. The point is not to bat down the waves. Those waves are your life. The point is to keep your eyes, ears, and heart on the One who transcends the waves, calls you by name, and invites you to join him.
What keeps you from walking on water?
Copyright 2013 Mary Sharon Moore, M.T.S.