“Focus Can Help with Fear”
Focus Can Help with Fear
I always enjoyed climbing around on rocks as a kid. It was fun to scramble up the side of a boulder. It was a challenge to figure out where to put my feet or where to grab with my hands to pull myself up and over. Climbing on rocks was fun, but I never thought I would actually go rock climbing. I never thought I would use a harness and a rope and make my way up a wall of stone more than ten feet high. I never thought I would do that because I was afraid of heights.
When I was in seminary, however, a professor of youth ministry talked me and a friend into joining one of his classes on a rock climbing trip. He explained how top-roping worked and how safe it was. I was still a little scared and nervous, but with his guidance I gave it a try. My heart was racing, and my legs were shaking as I began my climb. In the end, though, I made it to the top. What I discovered in that outing, as well as a few other times I have gone climbing, is that I have enjoyed the way that as I climbed I became very focused. Everything else in my mind was cleared so that all I was thinking about was the next handhold or the next foothold. It was refreshing to have such clarity in my thoughts, and a by-product of the focus was that I wasn’t so afraid. If I could just keep thinking about only the next step and not worry about how high up I was or how far I had left to go, I could keep going. The focus helped with my fear.
Peter is focused at first, in the Bible passage for this coming Sunday. He sees Jesus walking on the water in the middle of the storm and he wants to walk out on the water as well. Jesus invites Peter to join him and for a while Peter is doing it. He is walking on the water! It seems like as long as he is focused on Jesus he can do the seemingly impossible. The problem comes when he starts looking at the wind and the waves. The problem comes when he takes his eyes off Jesus. That is when he begins to sink.
Have you ever felt an increase in fear as you have found your attention shifting to all the difficulties raging on around us? Can the storms of life easily distract us with their overwhelming nature? How might keeping our eyes on Jesus allow us to keep taking that next step even when it seems impossible? How might that kind of focus help us overcome our fear?
-Pastor Erik Goehner