In the gospel of Matthew we read about the time a great storm hit the sea and Jesus walked toward the disciples on the rough waters. He overcame the storm; he overpowered it. As he approached Peter, Jesus said to him, “Come!” and Peter stepped out of the boat and also walked upon the sea toward Jesus. Peter was doing fine, able to overcome the sea as long as he kept his focus on Jesus. Then Peter looked around and fearfully gazed at the roaring sea. He took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the dangerous situation around him and he began to sink. Bishop Sheen tells us that Peter so loved the Lord that he wanted to be with him immediately, but Peter lost his focus and he began to sink. “Peter,” he says, “began walking by sight, not by faith!” The Bishop notes that Jesus did not move; Peter’s focus moved. There’s a lesson in this story for us.
The Lord is with us now as he was with the disciples and he also invites us to come to him, to step out in faith. But he gives success only when we keep our eyes focused on him. If we lose focus, we will sink. Facing stormy circumstances in our lives can overpower us, but if we keep our gaze on Jesus he can lift us so we are above the stormy sea once again. A spiritual writer reminds us that Jesus is the one who provides direction, hope and purpose, but only if we keep our focus on him.
Focus on the things that pertain to Jesus and “let the world become blurry.”
Focus on spending time connecting with God on a daily basis.
Focus on others’ needs before our own.
Focus on God’s faithfulness and believe God has not forgotten us.
Focus on the God who is aware of all things happening in the world.
We all know what it’s like to be in the midst of a challenging situation. Like Peter we start out with a solid focus on God’s presence and direction for us, but we get distracted by all that is going on around us. Like Peter we take our eyes off Jesus. We forget God’s faithfulness in the past. We lose the list of all for which we should be thankful. We fail to see God’s hand in the things that are happening to us and around us. We don’t see as God sees. We miss the goodness of God who created a Divine plan for our lives. Our vision is all out of focus!
Peter’s walk on the water and reaching out to Jesus is a microcosm of our life’s journey. Faced with the storms of this life we attempt to pay attention to Our Lord’s call to us and his offer to help us, but we falter even though we know that he alone is our only path. The story below reminds us of this.
A man was being chased by a tiger. He started running as hard as he could until he reached a cliff. The tiger was not far behind when the man saw growing from the cliff a branch only a few feet down. The man decided to jump off the cliff and grab the branch. But there was a mouse chewing on the branch and the man was distracted by contemplating the 1,000 foot drop if the branch gave way and he would fall. Frightened, he yelled up to the sky, “Jesus, please help me. I’ll do anything you ask.” A booming Voice answered, “Anything I ask?” “Anything!” The Voice called back, “There is only one way to save you, but take courage and have faith. Do what I ask. Do you have faith?” “Yes” the man answered. the answer. “Just tell me what I am to do. Your will is my will.” The Voice came again, “All right. Let go of the branch.” The man called back, “Is there anyone else up there?”
Like Peter on the sea, the man took his eyes off Jesus and focused on his difficult circumstance. In both cases their trust wavered, their faith weakened. Fear locked them up and limited them to their own experiences. They both needed to let go even when they couldn’t see what’s ahead for them. With both stories we come to realize that their stories are our story as well. So the lesson … keep our eyes on the Lord, reaching out to him when, not if, he comes to us in the storms of our lives. Trust him no matter what!
Sister Lauretta Leipzig
May 17, 2010