Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Staying Focused

(My apologies for a delayed post. Our router died this weekend and has just now been restored.)

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:29-30

My son was in tears; I was crushed. The involuntary twitching, a sign of energy demand and supply imbalance, had returned. Every spring and fall for the last three years we’d dealt with months of this strong jerking, sometimes in arms, sometimes legs, but always inhibiting to Peter’s quality of life. We gained some control through medication the last few seasons and so far it had not returned this fall. I had mentally held my breath that God would actually spare Peter of this trial this time. But then Peter woke up with it that fall morning. His tears not from any pain, but from knowing the frustration he would endure for however long the movements lasted. I felt so discouraged to face it again.

All day I battled feelings of sadness, overwhelmed by discouragement. How bad would the movements be this year? Would it stay intermittent or become constant like the past years? Should we chase it with medication and risk side effects or just watch for a bit? Peter already had regular tremors in his right arm. If this twitching settled in his left shoulder, it would eliminate almost all constructive use of his arms. Now wheelchair bound, it might actually be better if it settled in his hip, like the past spring. But would he still be able to participate in his adaptive track program? The more I thought about it, the more tired I got, the bigger my headache grew.

Finally I retreated to the study for some time in my Bible. God soon caught my attention. “You’re doing it again. You are focusing on the problem, not the answer.” I immediately understood his point, the message from the story of Peter walking on the water.

After a long day, the disciples headed across a lake by boat while Jesus took time alone to pray. In the early morning hours, Jesus walked on the water to catch up to the boat. The disciples feared a ghost. So Peter challenged Jesus to prove his reality by allowing him to walk on the water as well. Jesus agreed, and Peter walked on the water fine while looking to Jesus. But when his focus shifted to the wind and waves around him, he started to sink. Jesus pulled him up and they climbed into the boat together.

God had used that story many times with me to identify a faulty focus. The winds and waves surrounded Peter regardless of where he focused. But where he focused determined his success. Likewise, if I focused on the problem, I easily got overwhelmed and started to sink in despair- just as I did that day. But when I purposed to keep my focus on God, the one in control of the circumstances that surrounded me I could stay above the discouragement and fear and walk in peace. The situation was in God’s control. My role was to focus on him.

Always be mindful of where your focus lies. When that doctor’s report comes in, when someone lets you down, when storms of life seem to crash around you, keep your eyes on the one in control. Keep your hand in his, your eyes on his, and stay focused. As for me, two more years have passed since that day in my study. The twitching still comes; my wind and waves have not changed. And some moments I still struggle with a faulty focus. But each time it gets easier to trust. By keeping my eyes on the one in control, I know I will rise above the storm.


  1. Hi Juli,

    Staying focused - it can be so very hard sometimes! But I will print your post out, and refer to it as a reminder, and try to stay focused.

    Thank you again for the reminder. I worried a little yesterday - I've gotten used to checking your blog on Tuesdays and Fridays, and when you didn't post, I was a little worried. Glad all is well!

    It was nice to see you all out walking last week - Peter has gotten SO tall! He is always in my prayers.

    Love, Carol

  2. Things aren't exactly stable so thanks for your prayers. But it was just technical difficulties in the way this time :)

    Praying for you as well!