Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.” – Mark 6:51 (NIV)
Jimmy Johnson, the former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, offered some words of motivation to his team before they played the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII. His message to the team was on staying focused and how important it would be to keep distractions to a minimum while playing the game:
“I told them that if I laid a two-by-four across the room, everybody there would walk across it and not fall, because our focus would be that we were going to walk that two-by-four. But if put that same two-by-four 10 stories high between two buildings, only a few would make it, because the focus would be on falling. Focus is everything.”
Johnson’s pep talk seemed to sink in. The Cowboys beat the Bills, 52-17, to win the Super Bowl. Sorry for the reminder Pastor Bill.
For some reason, I thought about Johnson’s words yesterday after our pastor’s sermon and tracked down Johnson’s quote after Googling it. Continuing in the Gospel of Mark, our pastor preached on Mark 6:45-56 on Sunday, and the account of Jesus walking on water. A parallel account in Matthew’s Gospel goes into a bit more detail. Jesus had dismissed his disciples and gone up to the mountainside to pray. Afterwards, as the disciples were in the boat and out in the water, Jesus begins to walk towards them on the waves. After reassuring the disciples not to be afraid, Peter answers, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matt. 14:28, NIV). Jesus calls to Peter to start walking and he does. But not long after, Peter sees the wind around him, becomes afraid, and starts to sink. He then cries out, “Lord, save me !”
As He catches him, Jesus replies, “You of little faith, why did you doubt ?”
Peter’s trouble here is something that’s common for many of us. It’s an example of what happens when distractions enter our lives. We may have our hearts and minds set totally on God on Sunday, after worship and the sermon concludes. But then the realities of the work week set in. Like Peter, we begin to notice the winds around us and start to sink. By Wednesday or Thursday, the two-by-four is no longer on the ground, but 10 stories high, and we wobble across it while trying to keep fellowship with God. We can lose focus, and even worse, we can lose faith. It is at that point that we need to dig a little deeper into God’s Word, to seek out fellowship with brothers and sisters around us, and to pray that much harder. And it is exactly at those moments that we must remember the words of Our Savior, as he reassured His disciples on that boat:
“Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”