Our pup, Sydney, is a little over a year old. And while dogs do not come any cuter, they certainly come better behaved! I feel a little disloyal, but let’s be clear, she is A LOT in a little!
So we signed her up for obedience school, and we are learning a lot. Is Sydney? That’s still up for debate J. But we are trying! And one of my top priorities has been to teach her to walk with us (rather than ahead, behind, away from entirely…) on the trails around our house. The trails are amazing, and thus very busy with walkers, runners, bikers, strollers, and other dogs. It is critical that Sydney learn to contain herself and to listen to my voice.
And one of the key commands that the trainer (God bless her soul) has taught us is the word “check.” When Sydney hears it, she is supposed to stop in her tracks and look at me. The trainer would like for us to actually make eye contact. She says that as Sydney is learning, I may need to also click my fingers while saying the command. And to encourage her, whenever Syd obeys, she receives a treat.
We are not there yet. I assure you - we are not there yet! The number of times Sydney ends up with treats are few and far between. But we are working on it, because it’s important that Sydney learn this. There are a lot of things happening on those trails, and a lot of ways that Sydney could get herself into trouble. She needs regular reminders to stay focused and check in with me.
That is what I have pictured lately when I find myself slipping into worry or frustration. Because I can be a lot like Sydney! My daily “walk” starts off fine. I have my quiet time. I’m listening to a podcast or praise music as I get ready. I am walking with my Heavenly Father and feeling full of peace and joy. But then those blasted distractions of my day get in the way!
I’m reminded of an insecurity.
I get an ugly email.
Something falls through or doesn’t come together.
I hear the fears or frustrations of others and think, “Should I be concerned too?”
I see something on the news that sends shivers down my spine.
And then I can almost hear my Heavenly Father saying, “Check!” I can almost hear Him clicking His fingers while I continue to spiral. “Check.” Because He knows that I need to take my eyes off of everything happening around me and lock eyes with Him so that I can hear Him say…
“I love you.”
“I’m handling this.”
“Let’s walk this out together.”
“Don’t be afraid. I’m right here.”
It reminds me of when Peter walks on water in the book of Matthew. You should read the entire account for yourself, (Matthew 14:22-32) but here are the Cliff notes: The disciples are in a small boat far off shore (so things are a little “unstable”). It is night time. (And everything is scarier when it’s dark or when we are “in the dark” about what’s going to happen). And then there is a storm. Things are not going smoothly. Are you relating yet? When Jesus shows up and comforts them, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.” Jesus is far from the boat, standing on the stormy water, and Peter immediately asks if he can come out to Him. Jesus replies, “Come on out!”, but then the Bible tells us, “But when he [Peter] saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.”
So what went wrong for Peter? He took his eyes off of Jesus and started looking at the storm. And then his fear stopped him dead in his tracks. And if we are anything but empathetic with Peter, we are just fooling ourselves! Because we can be walking with God and trusting Him one minute – and completely terrified by all that is going on around us and sinking in the fear of it all the next.
So I lovvveee that when Peter starts to sink, He immediately cries out to Jesus who immediately holds out His hand and lifts Peter up. “Check.” And the passage tells us that they stepped into the boat and the winds ceased.
Notice that Peter didn’t try to figure out a solution on his own. He wasn’t interested in “treading water” for a little while. Peter didn’t call back to his friends in the boat. He didn’t try to get their advice or thoughts on what was happening. He was sinking and He cried out to the only One He knew could help.
Fear is not a sin. It’s a natural by-product of living on planet Earth. We feel fear – because this life can be scary! But our Heavenly Father holds out His hand and says, “Child, look at me.” And while the storm around us doesn’t always cease, the storms inside of us are quieted as we walk out this life with our God who loves us perfectly.
Let’s lock eyes with our Heavenly Father today. And when the distractions and fears of this world come across our paths, let’s refuse to run after anything else but Him. “Check.”
*Devotional taken from Peace That Passes, a devotional by Shawna Keller
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