Today we continue to discuss how dreamers and creators can stay encouraged.
It’s not an easy truth to admit, but whenever we get discouraged, it’s often because we’ve wandered into the “realm of stinking thinking.” We’ve allowed ourselves to focus on the problems of life, the challenges, the storms, the “Ziklag” events — instead of on the solutions; and as a result, our thoughts have grown dark, negative and pessimistic.
Problems can be solved, and challenges overcome. The storms of life will eventually pass, and as we previously stated, rainbows of promise tend to follow these periods of “foul weather.” (Read Boot Camp sessions 19 to 19.6)
The Bible records one such occasion of foul weather (literal), when the Lord’s disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilea. Their “boat … was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.” (Matthew 14:24 ESV) We’d like to think these twelve men took the storm in stride, calm, cool and collected. But apparently this temporarily doubting dozen gazed into the blackness of the violent waves and declared, “Oh look, we’re all gonna die.” In fact, their nerves were so on edge that, when Jesus came to their rescue — walking across the water (a quite natural thing for Him to do) — His disciples were terrified.
Jesus had to encourage them, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14:27 NLT) And what followed is both amazing and sobering. The Apostle Peter got out of the boat and started walking toward his Lord … on the surface of the water … without sinking … defying the law of gravity … so eat your heart out, Sir Isaac Newton!
Alas, Peter’s impossible feat was momentary. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, and not the heavy waves, the apostle was able to tread water. But when Peter took his focus off God, when he started paying more attention to the storm than the Storm–stopper, the disciple began to sink. (Matthew 14:30) Fortunately Jesus was right there with Peter, in the midst of the storm, and He kept the apostle from drowning from a lack of “I-can-do-all-things-through-Christ” faith.
We can’t really blame Peter for allowing the foul weather to frighten him. Storms are scary. So are heights. Which is why movie heroes, when rescuing people from high places, always utter the precaution, “Don’t look down!” Good advice. If we concentrate on the problems and perils of life, our faith can falter and we can freeze up, unable to think soundly and act correctly.
Besides, as in the case of Peter, God is always with us in the midst of every storm we weather. In every challenge we encounter, in every “Ziklag” event we face, the Lord is there, encouraging us through His Word, so that we won’t sink into depression and despair. Question is, are we focusing on Him, or what’s going on around us and in our lives?
Creators and dreamers (that would be all of us): staying “encouraged in the Lord” — just as David did in Ziklag (1 Samuel 30:6) — is dependent on our perspective in life. But we can choose how we view the world, circumstances, problems, and other people. Again, we have a decision to make, between the natural and the supernatural.
The natural response to any problem is to focus on the difficulties involved, the reasons (“Why me?”), the regrets (“How could I allow myself to get into this mess!”), and the “what-if”s (“What if I can’t fix this problem?”) If we choose the natural response to problems, and hence, adopt a strictly natural perspective, we’ll go through life with a “grasshopper complex” — as in, “I’m just a tiny grasshopper, and life is just one big shoe waiting to stomp on me!” This is precisely how Moses’ “advance party of spies” viewed the circumstances of their “promised land.”
This advance party focused on the perils and problems inherent in claiming their new home — and returned terrified. What did they see? Join us next session! Until then, don’t look down … and keep your chin up!
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 42:11 NKJV)