Navigating Life’s Storms
by Lisa Harris
After years of living thirty minutes from the Indian Ocean, I finally decided one day to go snorkeling for the first time with my family. Now keep in mind that I much prefer sitting on land and watching the ocean, which is why I’d never been out in it other than on a boat. But despite my lack of experience—ok, fear—I decided to be brave and jump in with the others when a school of dolphins appeared. I was fine, for the first few seconds. Then I saw those huge waves swelling around me. Suddenly, I felt extremely small and vulnerable, and as the boat began floating farther and farther away, I panicked.
The same thing happened to Peter. The disciples were out in their boat and thought they saw a ghost. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I would have panicked as well.
Then Jesus said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Don’t be afraid.
But it isn’t easy, is it?
It’s been a challenging year for my family and I, and not just because of a world-wide pandemic. I know I’m not alone. Many have felt significantly increased levels of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues because of the isolation, fear, uncertainty and economic issues. I know I’ve found it too easy to panic and get caught in that downward spiral.
Peter, though, decided to trust. At least for a moment. He got out of the boat and started walking on the water toward Jesus. But like me, he was distracted by the wind and the waves and started to sink.
Jesus reached out His hand and caught him, saying “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?”
Why do we doubt?
It’s a piercing question, but it can be challenging to keep our focus on Christ and His holiness, especially when the storms are raging around us. How do we navigate life with so much uncertainty?
Guard Your Mind
We have to be diligent in guarding our minds and what we put into it. This isn’t easy when we feel a constant heaviness swirling around us. Paul had great advice for this. He says in Philippians 4:8 that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about these things.” We have to take negative thoughts captive.
Look for the good around you. Be grateful. Start a thankful jar. Keep a journal of things you are thankful for. Laugh. Hang out with positive people. Get involved with a church community. Listen to praise music.
Have Tunnel Vision
Tunnel vision typically has negative connotations, but what happens when we lose sight of God because of distractions around us? Peter was able to walk on water while he had his eyes on Jesus, but he started to sink when he looked away. The world and its distractions are loud and overwhelming, which is why it is essential to keep our eyes on Jesus. That means being intentional in one-on-one time with God, prayer and praise with our eyes so focused on Him that the distractions are blurred out.
Anchor Your Heart
God isn’t watching from afar, He’s right here in the middle of everything going on around us. And while it might feel as if everything around us is shifting like sand, He doesn’t! He is our anchor. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Peter says to cast your anxiety on Him and stand firm. We need to intentionally lay everything in front of Him, eyes focused on Him—tunnel vision—so all distractions are blurred out.
What about you? What practical steps can you take to navigate the storms of life?
Lisa Harris is a USA Today bestselling author with over forty novels and novella collections in print. For more information about her books and life in Africa visit her website at www.lisaharriswrites.com
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.