It’s been a beautiful day here in Israel. Yes, Israel.
Tonight is our second night in a small town by the Sea of Galilee. I am here in Israel along with a group from my church for 11 days and so far the trip has exceeded my expectations. You would think that in a country like this with such rich biblical history, that it would be easy to stay focused on my faith…to remain undistracted.
I mean, I’m getting to see where Jesus lived and walked and taught and died and rose from the dead!
But as I review my day, I have to admit it started off with multiple diversions vying for my attention.
I’ve been having neck pain that flared up after the long flight here from the US.
I felt a little rushed getting ready to head to the tour bus this morning even though I got up thinking I had plenty of time.
I was a little grumpy with my husband due to lack of sleep and being late to the bus (I don’t like it when people have to wait on us).
No sooner had I taken my seat when I spilled coffee on myself. “Well crap” I said (probably a little too loud) as I looked at the dark splotches on my new top.
Finally the bus pulled away from the hotel toward our first stop of the day, a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. It was a hazy day and I thought about how unfortunate it was that we might not be able to clearly see the places from the boat where Jesus had spent the majority of his earthly ministry.
Once at the shore, our group headed to the wooden boat that would carry us across to the western shore of the lake. Halfway down the dock I realized I left the camera on the bus so my helpful husband went running back to get it before the bus left to meet us on the other side.
As I waited for my husband to return with the camera, I heard a quiet voice say, “Don’t let the distractions keep you from seeing Me.” Not an audible voice, but I sensed it in my spirit.
When we boarded the boat most everyone was seated and waiting for us (did I mention how I hate it when people have to wait on us?) We took our seats as the boat slowly left the dock.
I looked across the horizon and could barely see the shoreline in any direction. Again a voice in my spirit, “Don’t let the distractions keep you from seeing Me.”
After a few minutes the boat captain began playing a praise song over the loud speaker. I listened.
“Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You. Through it all, through it all it is well.
Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You, and it is well with me.”
As I heard those lyrics I was overcome with the desire to stop looking at the distractions around me and to focus my eyes on Jesus.
And sing praise to Him.
Praise to Jesus who walked on the water to meet the disciples late at night in the middle of this lake.
To the One who called Peter to come to Him out on the water.
The One who watched Peter impulsively climb out of the boat and begin to walk toward Jesus, but start to sink because he took his eyes off of his Savior.
While the praise music continued on our boat, the eyes of my heart became focused on Jesus alone. I was filled with the knowledge of who He is and how very much He loves me. In that moment I felt as if I would be able to do anything He asked of me. Anything. Jump out of a boat to walk on the water to Him? Piece of cake!
I realized that, like Peter, I feel that if Jesus calls me to do something, I can do it in His power. I can climb out of that boat and start walking.
But also like Peter, I can be easily distracted by other things. For him it was the wind and waves. For me it is feeling rushed, a sore neck, spilled coffee and a hazy day.
Satan loves to distract us with things, both trivial and life-altering, that will take our focus off of Jesus. The enemy is an expert at creating diversionary tactics to keep us from doing the things we can only do if we keep our eyes on our Savior.
After God called me to focus my eyes on Him once again, the rest of the day was splendid and I was undistracted. I was able to appreciate what a privilege it is to even be here, with a kind and knowledgeable Christian guide, a pastor who is an authentic follower of Jesus and who is great at making the scriptures come alive, and a group of dear friends (old and new) who are sharing this pilgrimage together.
My neck still hurt, my top still had coffee stains, and the clouds never completely cleared but I didn’t care. My eyes were on Jesus and nothing else mattered.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
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