Avoiding a Spiritual Stumble

Avoiding a Spiritual Stumble

July 26, 2013

“‘Yes, come,’ Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.” Matthew 14:29-30 (NLT)

The loud noise and screams suddenly coming from upstairs caused immediate panic.

That morning my daughter had set out to run a few miles on our treadmill. Everything was going just fine until the worst happened.

She lost her focus, then her balance, and stumbled. The treadmill violently threw her off and trapped her between the mat, the floor and the wall. She managed to wiggle free, but not before the treadmill wreaked havoc on her back, legs and arms.

When tears dried and Band Aids had been gently placed over the raw wounds, I asked her how the accident happened. It turned out she had a lot going on besides just running. For example, a blaring television, incoming text messages (which of course needed urgent attention), a loose shoelace and fatigue in her legs.

There were a lot of distractions that caused her to fall, and she was too weak to regain her balance. She vowed then and there to never get back on another treadmill. Ever.

My daughter’s tumble is a lot like what happens in our Christian walk. We fully intend to stay focused on Christ, but life’s distractions cause us to shift our focus, stumble in our faith and leave us feeling too beaten down to get back up.

Matthew 14:29 shows us how Peter took a tumble of sorts when he lost his focus. Peter and the disciples were caught in a terrible storm with their boat being tossed around by torrential waves. When Peter saw Jesus standing on the water, he asked to do the same thing. Let’s pick up the story there: “‘Yes, come,’ Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted” (Matt. 14:29-30).

When waves of fear, insecurity, discouragement or stress crash around me, I stumble too. These quickly become my focus instead of fixing my eyes on Jesus. Without fail, I sink under the weight of these circumstances and fall.

My “fall” looks like this: instead of praying, I worry about my dad’s health. Rather than praising God and looking to Him for provision, I stress about paying bills. And instead of trusting He will help me complete a task at hand, I doubt if I’m able to get everything on my agenda done. All these distractions pull me down and pull my faith away from Jesus.

Here is the amazing thing about Jesus. When Peter began sinking, he cried out for Jesus to save him. And Jesus did. Just as Jesus didn’t hesitate to pull Peter out of the rough waves, He will pull you and me back too as soon as we ask.

Life has stormy seasons. Unexpected health diagnoses’, years when children decide to walk away from the Lord, rough patches in our marriage … all cause waves of doubt, stress, worry or fear. These can cause us to stumble and fall if we only focus on them.

The best place to fix our eyes is on Jesus. He’s our peace, source of hope, and the One person we can trust will always be there for us. And when we do fall, as soon as we call out to Him, He’ll pick us up.

Dear Jesus, I confess I lose focus on You while running through the distractions of life. I have fallen many times. Help me to trust and have faith in You, and avoid letting life distract me from Your truths. Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Tracie’s blog for 5 tips on staying on track with Christ.

NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women is interspersed with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team.

Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace In Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles

Reflect and Respond:
In what ways has life been distracting you, causing you to inadvertently lose focus on Christ?

Close your eyes and visualize yourself standing in a storm looking at Jesus. Be bold and walk towards Him. Have faith that no matter how much life has caused you to get sidetracked, He is ready to reach out and pull you close once again.

Power Verse:
Proverbs 4:25-27, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” (NLT)

© 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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  1. Really needed this, I have been sidetracked with the things going on around me and I just need to stay focused on Jesus and He will pull us out of this storm!! Amen!!!

  2. Thank you. This helped me refocus on what is the most important. Lots of family issues this year.

  3. I e-mailed earlier today asking for prayer. But this devotion describes where I was. I was distracted. God will take care of us and comfort us. God bless you all.

  4. This story of Peter was placed on my heart yesterday. I feel God prepared my heart to RECEIVE HIS message. I am in a storm and I greatly needed this devotion today! Thank you God for preparing me to receive it! Thank you God for your provisions!

  5. Shaminika Hayes says:

    This song comes to mind when I read this (I’ve been through the storm and rain but somehow I made it)
    ThankYou Jesus Sham

  6. Your devotion was perfect for me today. Actually it’s perfect for me almost every day. While I have been walking with The Lord many of my 44 years I lose focus and sadly forget to go to him first far too many times. And yet time and time again I am given examples of his care and provision in my life. The ultimate blessing is that I know he always loves me.

  7. Melissa Sorenson says:

    This really hit home with me. Even after knowing Him for 26 years, I tend to get distracted very easily, yet He is always there to pick me up and help me regain focus…time and time again. I loved the treadmill analogy (although I’m sorry your daughter went through that!). Definitely sharing this.

  8. Phranases says:

    Thank you, I really needed this today. This is one of my daily struggles.

  9. Michele says:

    this was perfect. I always feel like I fall off track one way or another. But Jesus knows we can always call on him cause we are sinners and make mistakes. God Bless you all

  10. This was perfect for me for today… actually, this entire week. THANK YOU.

  11. I loved this article!
    Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

  12. I’ve been reading and praying about this story in recent days. I’m in a stormy season right now. I find that I’m SO much like Peter! Yikes. I tend to lose my focus. I tend to panic. And take my eyes off Jesus. Thanks so much for this devotion today, Tracie. It is much needed and appreciated!

  13. Courtney says:

    This message was absolutely perfect and just what I needed to start my day! Thank you, Tracie! Also, I love how when I shared this post via Twitter it says “Shawowzie” when it’s sent! 🙂

  14. Lynette says:


  15. Greetings! This message is so timely. I am a little down this morning. God is constantly encouraging me to fix my eyes on Jesus, to focus. I did the exercise about envisioning myself being in a storm and looking at Jesus, being bold and walking toward Him. While I did not walk toward Him yet, I looked at Him with the wind blowing and the rain slapping my face. I thought of how we bow our heads in prayer, and maybe that is not the way to go. Sometimes that brings distractions of its own – along with closing the eyes. One time God directed me to look up toward the ceiling when praying. At any rate, the need is to stay focused on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith. Please pray for me as I deal with issues with my teen daughter – things I have to deal with over and over again – in myself as well as with her. Why am I not changing? Next month I will have been a Christian for 42 years. I know I have matured in my Lord, but why do I not see more permanent change? Well, thank you for letting me vent a little. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. There are many good insights, and I plan to read the 5 tips for staying on track with Christ. 🙂 God bless you and all your readers.

  16. I love when I wake up in the morning and come to this site to see God speaking to me! I have been letting life distract me way too much lately and my time with Him has not been as much of a priority. I don’t know about anyone else but when I am distracted, I need God the most! Thank you for this wonderful post.

  17. God is good and has opened my eyes through this devotional. I am very thankful for P31 devotions , many times God has used the authors words to reflect His heart. Today was good b/c life is sad at times in this phase of my life and very busy so I especially need to stay focused.
    PS: Tracie-your daughters treadmill dilemma brought back a memory of a younger me not keeping up with the fast moving belt and I fell and was scraped & hurt! Legs were sore & looked like I had terrible rug burn for a while after the incident. I did get back on on a treadmill but was more careful and these days I prefer to walk outside or use my elliptical rather than a treadmill:)

  18. Thank you for this today! This really spoke to me!

  19. Maggie Jones says:

    God is so good! This devotion is an answer to prayers. Thank you for listen to God and sharing what He reveals to you.

  20. TABITHA JONES says:

    Thank you for this devotion it is what I needed to hear today.

  21. Makeeta says:

    This was a great devotion to read today!! I have been distracted quite sometime now and have let things overwhelm and consume my thoughts. From worrying about tomorrow constantly and focusing on what-if’s I need to understand and learn to put all of my faith in God and know that he will do right by me. He is my protector and strength and I need to rely on him during those times when I start to become sidetracked with my thoughts and worrying over things or trying to solve problems on my own. I need to remember to turn over all of my problems to him and he will guide me in the way I should go. Thank you for this devotion..it is a GREAT reminder to us all to RELY on him and soley on him and to continue to pray and meditate on his word.

  22. Nancy Miksad says:

    This was a fabulous devotion and the analogy and comparison was perfect! I so relate and have become so distracted with daily ‘stuff’ and simply getting through the day. I have not found a church home that satisfies my thirst and desire so I am hungry for Jesus. What I needed and need to realize is he is right here all the time with open arms simply awaiting for my arrival. Today I get focused

  23. I am in this very situation right now! Thank you so much for these words. I get so confused by all the ‘stuff’ you can read on internet about situations. Some say you must live perfect or you are on your way to hell, I am not perfect and I thank God for people like you that share the truth with scriptures. From this devotion I am reminded that Jesus knows me and knows where I am and He is waiting on me to cry out – ‘Save me Lord”. God Bless You

  24. angie steffen says:

    I love this!!! I have to confess that the last. 2 months I have been faithful w/ my devotions. I started doing it due to stress, money, I would become very angry w/ God, I was giving 10% back to him, but could not understand why we were getting no where. I found proverbs 31 when I Google devotions. Then every day every One was what I needed. I prayed, and got no where, when I truly stopped to listen, God won’t give u more then. You can handle. If we could not get a handle on our money now, then He won’t give us more. Yes we are doing better, but now we don’t stress because what good is that? Thank you again this is truly a life saving devotion site! God Bless You All!!!

  25. Love this ministry. It always speak to whatever situation I am in and gently reminds me Keep your eyes on Jesus! Blessings to you all.

  26. Sharron Stewart says:

    I am currently in sun-scorched land and in need of His spring with my next international adoption. Today’s devotion was spot on, reminding me that God’s timing and provision is not rational without first faithfully believing in Him and His Word. Now to redirect my eyes off myself to Him. Thank you.

  27. Jennifer says:

    All my life I have had distractions. Abusive father, complaining mother, running away getting into an even worse situation, becoming a young single mother and just recently my diagnosis of breast cancer. I know I have been a challenging and stubborn child, wrestling with HIM. Although I made bad choices JESUS never left me. Looking back I can see just how JESUS has loved, protected and provided for me. Even more than ever I leap into HIS arms and HE cradles me, letting me lean my head on HIM. I may have many storms in life but JESUS is the radiant beacon of light shining through the storm allowing me to refocus on HIM.

  28. Thank you so much and this story reminds me of my life. I sometimes wonder if God is listening to my prayers. I too have many problems healthwise, financial, and many other heart aches being a mother, but God is good and I walk daily and talk to God and then I realize from God that there are hundreds of others who have it so much worse than me. When I look at the children in foreign countries living in mud, drinking water from dirty water where clothes are washed, and starving to death, I thank God for letting me be born in this country, even though our country has gone way beyond what God intended for his people. We have to pray for especially our young who will, someday, be our future generation. God bless America!!!!!

  29. Thank you Tracie, love the scriptures. Life is truly full of distractions. I have been praying about several things in our life, and our Lord has answered in such an awesome way, through all our answered prayers, we have had fiery darts from the enemy involving our daughter, who is 17. My husband and I start to feel weakness, and we hang on to God’s truths and promises and we help each other. Psalm 46:10 Be still and know I am God”. Jesus said “I am the way , the truth and the Life” John 14:6, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future Jeremiah 29:11
    This battle with our daughter is God’s to handle, we just have to pray, wait and be obedient.
    Thank You for loving all us sisters and sharing stories and scriptures.

  30. Diana LL says:

    Praise God for His favor and everlasting mercies! This devotional today has truly blessed my heart. I am currently in a whirlwind storm that would truly swallow me up and carry me away, but for my God! I do find myself a lot of the time losing focus and there is no excuse for it, because I know who my Comforter is. However, when I do lose my focus like now, I dive deeper into the word of God for guidance, encouragement and He always provides at His appropriate time. That my friends is why I will always give Him praise!

  31. fumbani says:

    I always learn something new about the grace of God everytime I read the bible, and devotions help me get intrested and excited for the word of God. God has been good to me and has answered all my prayers and given me so much more than what I asked for or deserved, and yet he says the best is yet to come. But with all he is doing in my life, I still get distracted. I really liked this devotional, especially the last verses from the book of proverbs, It encourages me in my current situation and helps me to do better in future.
    May God bless you as you preach his word. Thank you

  32. Tracie:

    This SO ME lately. I feel like I have fallen in a lot of things, not reading my devotions or not being consistent with having quiet time at all with God because I get so distracted by things and He gets put on the backburner. I have fallen in having the self control needed to stay away from my family has much, which I am working on, slowly as I write this. I realize that I need to get back, instead of staying down. I thought of this the other day and it might be taken already but “Everyone fails at something, it is how we deal with that failure that matters.”

    Thank you for this, I just have to try to remember that as long as I am trying and that I get back up is all that matters. I need to keep pressing on and know that God is with me and that He sees the desires of my heart. I will definitely say this prayer and just pray that God will help me to keep my focus on Him now and always.

    Thanks again, may God bless you.

  33. I’m sitting beside the bedside of a hospital room where my sweet little Dad is slowly dying. Having lost myMom last year 3 days after I had my hip replaced I find these early mornings to be like vacations to my childhood. I reflect on my Godly parents & what a legacy the have left all of us. This devotion was such a reminder of how close I come to sinking before calling out to God my Father. thank you for allowing God to use you.

    • Diana LL says:

      Beverly first of all I am praying for you and your father mightily. God bless you for the strength, courage and faith that you seem to have while enduring these life changing events. As I read your comment tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about the situation between my father and I. My father lives right next door to me and has for almost 2 years now since the passing of his wife 2 years ago. I had encouraged him to move closer in town so that I could be there for him(even though I was dealing with a severe painful case of DJD, arthritis, and a host of other diagnosis that are irrelevant at present). His wife had been in the hospital for 5 months and we all knew that it would not be long. She was a very young 56 about 7 years older than myself, having been diagnosed with severe COPD and on a ventilator for the entire 5 months. I had hoped that my father and I would be able to rekindle the strained relationship that we had had with one another. My mother because of my fathers alcoholic binges and physical outrages toward her, packed us up(there were 5 of us, 1 boy and 4 girls, I am the oldest) and moved us to another state. It was of course a drastic move on her part and frightening to say the least but she did it because she had faith and knew that God would comfort, guide and lead her. And so it was. A single mother with 5 children all by herself in a huge city, but she knew that she had to care for her children and raise them and that she did. Now did she always do her best? Not always, but she gave it her all. And I will always appreciate that. I was able to attend a university and major in Vocal Music. My father was not there to support me, but I always thought about him and wished that he was closer. I did go and visit him after my freshman year when my grandmother passed, but was a little confused and saddened that things were still the same for him and alcoholism had completely consumed him. And unfortunately to this day at the age of 67, with hypertension, diabetes, and severe COPD he still continues to allow it to consume him. I say all of this to say this; I know that I need to continue to try and develop some form of relationship with my father, God requires that I do. That is why I must keep my focus on Him, He is the only one that can guide and lead me through this very difficult terrain that I have been drudging through for most of my life. I do love my Heavenly Father, and despite his shortcomings, I do love my earthly father dearly. And so onward I go with the word of God in hand, and mind; the holy spirit in my heart; my mustard seed faith; the Son of God by my side; my praying on bended knee without ceasing; God watching and guiding me to see just how well I tackle this new test that He has willed for me. Bless you Beverly and bless you Tracie and bless those of you who frequent this wonderful website! Glory and Honor to our Heavenly Father Forever!

  34. First off, this devotional was very timely for my life since I’ve recently been struggling mightily with recalling that God is my source of strength and the One I should look to in order to retain balance and focus. When I began reading this devotional, “Oceans” by Hillsong immediately came to mind and so I played it throughout the rest of my time reading it. It was especially powerful to listen/sing along to the song when I got to the “Reflection & Response” section of the devotional and was envisioning myself in the ocean, walking towards Jesus while waves of fear, doubt, insecurity crashed all around me. I am committed to believing that the Lord will make my faith stronger when I encounter storms. I need to remember to never stop believing and remain focused on Jesus, who is also in the middle of the ocean with me!

    Really appreciate this devotional, Tracie!

  35. This was just what i needed and the way i wanted to start my morning in the presence of God….Because i have allowed the distractions of my life to consume me Bills, Money, my mothers health from a massive stroke and her brain cells are dead,being a wife, mother, working full time, parents been married almost 40 yrs and women coming on to him at church, my sibling upset about that….the bottom line is only God can touch my situation and yours as well, so just get in gods presence my sisters…that is what i told myself no FB,paying Bills, grocery list and starting my sat, just want Ed to put God first this am, something i have not done in months, luv u all, have a blessed weekend 🙂 great
    So glad i put God first today and i was truly blessed….

  36. Wow!! Did I ever need this right now!! Thanks for sharing.

  37. I was just talking about this lesson with my 17 year old daughter who is going through rough waters! Thank you because sometimes it helps to hear it from someone other than your mom and I forwarded this to her! I am so guilty of getting distracted and sinking in the water. Our current storm is like a hurricane, pounding from all sides and I have to re-focus on Jesus zillions of times each day. Thank you!

  38. Kimberly says:

    I truly needed to hear this! I get lost in everyday life and tend to focus on things that are out of my power and control. Thank you for sharing this!

  39. Thank you for this beautiful message; so timely! I have so often given in to reacting to people and situations around me in fear, panic and a mad attempt to calm everything down, to no avail. As I have focused more on Christ and relied in His grace in those moments when I feel flustered, a wonderful thing has happened: I find I’m calmer, able to delay my reaction and think about what I want to say and do. That leaves me feeling better, more in control of the situation (as opposed to it controlling me). Best of all, as I am able with His Grace to conquer this life long Goliath (impulsive reactions driven by fear, angst and uncertainty), I’m becoming more confident and peaceful; my reactions and responses are chosen – frequently in quietness and prayer, sometimes not- and I don’t end up burning bridges or putting up walls. I’m liking and loving me more as I grow in His grace….baby steps, but progress for sure! He is indeed a mighty God that we serve. Thanks again and may He richly and abundantly bless you, your family and our ministry.

  40. Jinci Carter says:

    The most encouraging devotion for where I am. Word pictures very realistic. Thank you for being transparent. God bless you real good!

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