Do you know what Satan's greatest weapon is? What is the number one thing that leads people astray from God? Distraction.
Distractions rob us of so much. They keep us busy robbing us of time and relationships. They keep us striving for more robbing us of contentment. They wear us out and rob us of our joy. But perhaps the most important asset distraction steals from us is focus.
When we fail to focus we take our eyes of God and we end up like Peter, sinking towards the bottom of the sea. Let's visit one of my favorite illustrations in the Bible. (All of the Bible is my favorite so you will hear that a lot.)
Read through text and then I will help you break it down and share a modern context and application from my own life this week.
So Jesus is doing what Jesus does. The impossible. Not only is He doing the impossible but He is doing it to build the faith of His disciples. Miracles are the business of God, and this walking on water was pretty exciting business, Peter wanted in on it.
Jesus, being Jesus, was like, "Here take it. Everything I have is yours. Come walk on the water with me." He does everything to make it possible for Peter. Peter just has to step out in trust.
And He steps out and it's amazing. He is really walking on water! But then he looks around and sees all the reasons why he shouldn't be walking on water. The winds are blowing mightily, the waves are crashing, and well...it's water. People don't walk on water.
With each negative thought Peter sinks into the water until he has to cry out to Jesus to save him. I can just picture Jesus shaking his head slowly, wanting so badly for Peter to take hold of the miracle. Then he says, Peter "why did you doubt?" In essence He was saying. "Peter I did all the hard stuff. I produced the miracle and all you had to do to take hold was believe and put one foot in front of the other.”
AND NOW FOR A COMPLETELY CONVICTED CONFESSION FROM YOURS TRULY.
Three weeks ago I started this site. It was a long time coming but the timing was affirmed by God. I knew it was right. At that same point in time I was working on a big project for a ministry that is transforming lives. I am collecting stories of life transformation to tell through video, social media and other outlets. These stories will play a role in the redemption of others. Then my son chocked on a toy at daycare and was rushed to surgery. I was distracted, rightfully so.
The last week was spent trying to come to terms with what happened and the fact I was not there for my precious 2-year-old boy, and then looking for a new preschool for him and trying to keep up with work as I care for him at home in the meantime. Suddenly my life is full of distractions. Suddenly I am just like Peter standing on the edge of a miracle, the miracle of God using me to build His kingdom, and I am just like Peter, doubting.
Maybe I should not write.
Maybe I should stay home and not work.
Maybe I took on too much.
But here is the thing. God gifted me with a love of words and a passion to preach His Word. He told me to step on the water and start this blog so who am I to cower and say that the distractions are too much to keep going? God orchestrated my employment and even the childcare that my son was in. Who am I to say his plan was not right or that the road is too hard? Who am I to make excuses of why I can't use the gifts God has given me in the way He asks me to use them just because the waters get rocky sometimes?
And that, friends, is how distractions steal your focus. That is how Satan makes sure that you don't use your gifts to bless others. So we have to push in and encourage each other.
We have to have the faith to stay focused on the gifts God has given us and to doing the good work He has set before us. TWEET THIS
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On Wednesday I got the text a mother never wants to see. “Our son choked on a toy and is headed into surgery at the emergency room.”
People have often asked me how I stay so calm during situations of crisis. One reason is because God prepares me for every little moment. Remember how last weekend I launched my new blog? (This one you are reading now.) Turns out God was preparing me for a crisis that was about to happen in my life.
In my last blog I highlighted how Esther, when faced with a crisis, first prayed and gathered everyone she knew to pray too. So when my sweet two-year-old baby boy was in the hospital going under anesthesia to have a toy removed from his throat, and I was fifteen minutes away, I knew what to do. God had prepared me.
I called on my people to pray.
And pray they did. While I panicked that I was not by my son’s side to comfort him as I raced to the hospital, not for a minute did I think he wouldn’t make it. I knew God had him. I knew He would protect him. How could I not believe that God was in this moment after he had been so kind to prepare me for it?
In my last post I wrote about how Esther said to the Jews that if they would pray she would go before the King, and if she perished she would perish. I noted her bravery and trust. But maybe I gave her too much credit.
Maybe she was just blessed with a super natural faith to know everything would be OK. That the great protector was on her side. Perhaps she was chosen for such a time as this because of her mighty faith in God. Perhaps she was chosen because she would help others to increase their faith by simply practicing hers. Maybe we all have the power to do that.
I wonder how much more we all could do if we had faith that was mighty and pure and if our first action to any situation was to pray. It makes me curious enough to make a more intentional practice of doing just that.
P.S. The toy was successfully removed from my little boy, a little tykes bolt that was way too large for swallowing to begin with. After a night at the hospital for observation and a trip back to the ER for a fever scare, chest x-rays showed a fully healed boy who swallowed a toy that happened to have a hole in the middle-which saved his life. God is faithful. So faithful.
One of my favorite women in the Bible is Esther. Her story has so many detailed twists and turns. Some, you may miss if you don't look closely.
Some might say that Esther began her journey when she hid her identity and went to the King and was chosen as queen. I don't agree. I say Esther began her journey with her first decison to trust God. That moment doesn't happen until Chapter 4 when her uncle Mordecai says the famous line, "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b)
We love that line. It is a lovely motivational statement, but if you don't look closely you will miss what follows. You will miss exactly how Esther made a personal choice to trust God. Let's look at the text in Esther, her story is tucked in the Old Testament between Nehemiah and Job.
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:15-16 NIV
The first decision Esther made was to pray. Fasting is the deepest form of seeking God. It means that you deny yourself earthly pleasures to focus on the will of God. Praying, seeking Him, trusting Him to deliver the solution you need for the problems you face. It is an act of surrender rooted in prayer.
I love that when Esther stepped out in faith she was all in. She didn't just go somewhere and quietly pray-she called all the people to pray with her.
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me."
Talk about a natural born leader. Esther knew two things. She knew she couldn't face the problem without a support system and that she needed to give others the opportunity to witness God's mighty power when He answered.
Esther continues this bold move of faith with action. Esther is one of the mothers of our faith that allowed James to preach the bold statement, "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:17 NIV)
Esther then committed to taking action. She would approach the King, which normally meant a sure death, in faith that God would give her favor on behalf of the Jews. Then Esther says something that is so endearing to me. She becomes completely authentic and honest.
"When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
If I perish, I perish. How raw and honest. How brave and vulnerable. Esther is admitting that she is putting all her trust in God even though she doesn't know the outcome. This is faith my friends. This is faith in action.
Most of us know how the story of Esther turns out. She prevents a major holocaust of the Jews by making a decision to step out in faith. That's it. Just an ordinary girl making a brave choice to trust an extraordinary God.
What area of your life do you need to trust God with? Is it trusting that if you walk away from an opportunity that God has something better in store for you? Is it trusting God for a miracle in a situation that feels hopeless? Is it trusting your children will be fine with their new teacher? Is it trusting your husband to parent in his own way rather than intervening. For me it's all of the above and more.
Today I encourage you to follow the example of Esther. Invite people into your story, pray, seek God, and then trust him to provide just what you need.
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I'm just a girl, standing before my God, knowing that He loves me and wanting others to know that love too.