Fear is limiting. It is so limiting that one second we can be “walking on water,” and the next second we can be sinking toward the bottom of the ocean (like Peter in the following story).
In the past when I read this story (about Jesus walking on water), I thought the message was to not be afraid. While I believe that is one layer of the lesson here, I think there is an even a deeper layer: the cause of fear.
This story is about perspective and how right perspective eliminates our deepest and truest fears.
Peter lost perspective. And when he took his eyes off of the “Prize,” he began to sink.
Matthew 14:22-33 states,
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
The last words of Jesus in this passage are, “why did you doubt?”
Why do we doubt?
My mom often told me to “keep my eyes on Jesus” (when I came to her with my “trials” and “tribulations”). I remember–even recently–thinking, “what does that mean? Was I supposed to picture him in my mind hanging on a cross? Was I supposed to imagine him hugging me and making me feel better? Maybe I was supposed to picture his face in my mind and meditate on it it… I didn’t know. And even now I believe I am just at the beginning stages of understanding it.
The above story helped.
When, like Peter, we take our eyes off of what really matters in life, we will began to “sink.” Peter looked at the physical realm and let fear enter his mind and heart. Peter lost right perspective by looking at the “wind” instead of Jesus.
“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'” (verse 33)
Interestingly, the scripture does not say, “when he felt the wind.” And logically, we do not “see” wind; rather, we feel it. So this message is not about what we feel; but rather it is about where we look. Are we looking at Jesus or the storm?
Are you sinking? Where is your focus? What is your “wind”?
It is impossible to have our eyes and perspective on Love–(something above this world)–and still be afraid. Jesus is above this world (walking on water). He is above logic. He is pure love. He is our purpose: unconditional love and mercy incarnate. And he wants us to join him!
When our attention is not on the storm, but on the One who created the entire universe (including storms), we will not be afraid. Love and fear cannot reside in the same place.
Again, if we keep our eyes on the goal–Jesus–we will never be afraid.
We will not be afraid to do in our hearts what we know is right. We will not afraid to be honest in all of our interactions. We will not be afraid of the opinions of others. We will not be afraid of rejection. WeWe will not be afraid of this world.
When we have right perspective, we realize that this world (and everything in it) is fleeting. And the One in whom we put our trust is above the world. He has overcome it (John 16:32-33).
This is how the martyrs and saints lived–and died. From St. James to Martin Luther King, Jr. Their eyes were on something bigger than this fleeting world. Their eyes were on a loving and merciful savior who called them to complete a task, and they gladly responded. They responded with faith and perseverance because they had right perspective.
When Jesus says, “Come,” are you willing? Are you ready? Are you filled with faith or fear? Where is your focus? Is it on the storms of this world or is it on Jesus?
How can we join Jesus in defying the rules of this world? We must first see Jesus. We must step out toward him. And most of all, we must keep our eyes on him.
If you want to walk on water with Jesus, if you want to defy logic, and if you want walk in the footsteps of Love, you must–WE MUST– keep right perspective. Our “perspective” has to be eternal. Our eyes have to be on JESUS: THE ETERNAL ONE (and that includes everything that matters to Him).