Now that we're nearly 60 years post-Sputnik, this fear sounds crazy. It sounds ridiculous. It's laughable. But to the people of that era, it was a very real threat to their safety. And they were scared. The world was ending and freedom would go up in a cloud of smoke. A mushroom cloud.
Of course the 50s gave way to the 60s which brought the U.S. into the Viet Nam war. First we have Russia flying above our heads, gearing up to nuke us, and then war, death and all things terrible break out in a tiny Asian country. The fear in the hearts of Americans must have gone up exponentially. It was a terrifying time.
A few weeks ago, I was reflecting back on the Roe v. Wade decision of the 1970s. Yes, the 70s and the sexual revolution. The world around us was suffering under communists, genocide and torture touching many nations around the world. Here in America, we made it legal for a woman to abort a fetus. We made it legal for a woman to kill her unborn child.
Again, fear devoured us. Certainly this moral decay along with the advancing nuclear technology, multiple wars and death all over the globe must signal the end.
I'm not debating whether or not we are living in the end times. We are. We have been ever since Jesus ascended to heaven 2000 years ago. But what I am saying is this: don't lose focus.
Peter was so excited to see Jesus walking on the water that he jumped out of the boat and went to meet him. We all know what happened next. He got distracted by the waves around him. I can see him in my mind's eye, suddenly panicking, realizing that water was beneath his feet, and it was deep and probably tumultuous. And he was surrounded by it. I can see him stop, look down at his feet, look around at the waves, back at his friends hollering at him in the boat. And then I can see him start to sink. Flailing. Shouting. All around freaking out. Sinking. Till Jesus grabs him and says, "Hey, scaredy-cat, why did you second guess me? Why did you lose focus?" (Those are my words. You can read Jesus' actual words in Matthew 14:22-33)
That is exactly what happened to the American people when Sputnik flew over head. It happened again when Viet Nam was in every headline. And yet again during Roe v. Wade. And the Cuban missile crisis. And World War 2. And the Gulf War. And Afghanistan. And September 11. And Iraq.
And last month when gay marriage was legalized. And last week when Planned Parenthood was caught selling baby parts.
Fear overtook us. Panic set in. We started running around like Henny Penny. We started to watch the waves at our feet. We yelled from our boats. We lost sight of our Savior standing on the water, hands outstretched. And we started to sink.
Fear is the most powerful weapon the enemy has. Do you realize that nothing has to happen, our fears don't even have to materialize and he's already won? Sputnik didn't nuke us. But the fear that it could undermined our faith, distracted us from our purpose and for a time, crippled us. The enemy didn't need our worse fear to come to pass. He just needed us to believe that it could.
That was all it took to make us lose focus on our Savior.
And, he's trying to do it again. He's filling the headlines with bad news. He's painting the world in fear. He's stirring up worry and anxiety. Everywhere we look there is something of which we should be afraid.
Except if we only look to Jesus.
The world around us is crumbling. How long it will take until it's completely destroyed no one knows. It could happen tomorrow. It could happen a century from now. But that's not the point. The point is our King, our Savior, the Creator of the Universe, the One who holds it all together, the Prince of Peace, the Great I Am, the God who brought Israel out of Egypt, and brought America through the wars of the 20th century is STILL ON THE THRONE.
He is still standing on the water holding out his hand to us saying, "Come." And when we lose our focus and we start to sink and cry out for Him to rescue us, He still reaches out, grabs us and says, "Why did you start to panic? Why did you lose faith?"
So, today, in a world that doesn't make any sense, that seems further away from God than ever before, where it's getting harder and harder to live a life of faith, don't look at your feet. Don't look at the pandemonium around you. Just look at the cross. Don't lose focus of Jesus. Just keep your eyes on Him.