It’s so easy to focus on the problems and negative things happening around us. We hear about the state of the economy, education, health, and the world’s moral compass and we can be tempted to focus on these things until we get to the point of shaking our heads in discouragement, or making every effort to try to ignore it all. I don’t believe it’s necessarily helpful to stick our heads in the sand and pretend everything’s rosy, but there is also a definite danger in allowing the negatives and concerns around us to become our focus, rather than putting our hope and trust in God’s goodness and ability.
Jesus highlighted the importance of keeping our eyes fixed on Him in the account of Peter walking on the water. It had been a busy day and Jesus had sent his friends before him in a boat while He dispersed the crowd, and spent some time alone praying.
“Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased”. (Matthew 14:22-31)
Peter recognised Jesus and took the courageous step of climbing out of his boat in the middle of a stormy sea. He even walked on water just like Jesus, until he made a mistake that many of us still make – he chose to take his eyes off Jesus and consider his surroundings, rather than recognising who was with Him. Because of that He started to sink as he lost faith. He forgot about Jesus’ ability to care and override natural forces to do something supernatural like walking on water and calming the wind and waves. He forgot just how powerful Jesus is, and instead looked at a few waves, which he happened to have been previously walking on!
Faith is trust. It doesn’t necessarily make sense, but it does mean keeping our eyes on Jesus and choosing to focus on what He says and does, rather than the noise, other’s experiences, and the circumstances around us.
We won’t ever live the life that God says we can live in Him if we focus on anything but Him. It just doesn’t work. We can’t live healed and whole if we look at other people and what they have experienced, rather than what Jesus says in His word. We can’t live at peace when we read and listen to the noise of the world, instead of resting in His love. Nor will we know overflowing abundant life if we follow the crowd rather than fixing our eyes on Jesus and following Him and His ways.
However just as Jesus didn’t force Peter or any of the other disciples to step out of the boat, he won’t force us. It’s our choice whether we fix our gaze on Him or whether we do our own thing. As for me, I’d rather be walking on water with Jesus any day, because really how cool is that!
Prayer: Lord please help me today to keep my eyes fixed on you rather than on people, circumstances or the noise around me. For with you I can “walk on the water”, and conqueror any storm in my life. In Jesus name Amen!