There is a truth that I have learned about myself that never fails: I move toward whatever I’m focused on. For example, when riding my bike, driving my truck, or even walking down the sidewalk, I almost always find myself moving in the direction that I am looking.
I have a bent bicycle wheel to prove it.
And here’s another thing I find to be true: often, what I am focusing on leads me down the wrong path. It seems I have a penchant for thinking about the things that I am most afraid of running into, which explains my bent wheel, but also many other things about my life that fear has caused to become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
One of my favorite Bible stories illustrates this well. The disciples are in a boat in the middle of the lake in the middle of the night. Early the next morning, Jesus comes out to them, walking on the water. When the disciples see him, they fail to recognize him, and through a combination of low visibility, not enough sleep and ancient superstitions, they think he’s a ghost.
They are scared to death.
When Jesus calls out to them, Peter says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come.”
Jesus says, “Come.”
And so Peter gets out of the boat, and begins to walk on the water. It’s amazing what you can do when you do it with your eyes fixed on Jesus and your feet planted on the word of Jesus.
And then he sinks.
It was a triumphant start with a wet finish. So what changed? What caused Peter to start so well and end so poorly?
His focus shifted. At the beginning, he was responding to the word of Jesus (come), and he was focused on the image of Jesus, who was walking toward him. The change happens in Matthew 14:24, where it says, “But when he saw the wind…”
This is a strange phrase, because you can’t really see the wind, but you can see the effects of it. What the text means is that Peter’s focus shifted from his hope to his fear. The wind was his fear, because it is the wind that causes the kind of seas that have taken the lives of so many fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. When Peter saw the wind, his focus changed.
And so did his trajectory.
Last Sunday, we celebrated an incredible outpouring of faith through two incredible events: we commissioned Steve and Suzanne Buchele as they embarked on a new journey to Hanoi, and we raised over $18,500 at our Great Day of Giving. Both events demonstrate a faith-filled focus on hope that leads us toward life and away from fear – the hope that compels us to go where God is calling us as we fix our eyes on the Savior.
Where will your focus be today?