Faith and Keeping Your Eyes Fixed on Your Leader

Here is a story that most of you have heard before.

After feeding the 5000, Jesus sends his disciples ahead of him in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. Several hours later in the night, the disciples encounter a storm. Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. This terrifies the disciples and they think they are seeing a ghost. Jesus tells them “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” Peter replies, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” So Jesus invites Peter to come. Peter gets out of the boat and begins walking on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and sees the wind and waves, he begins to sink. Peter cries out and Jesus immediately reaches out his hand and catches Peter. As they climb into the boat together, the storm ceases.

Peter doesn’t begin to sink until he starts looking around at the wind and the waves from the storm. During the storms of life, taking our eyes off our true leaders, and focusing on the difficult circumstances surrounding us will often cause us to lose faith and sink.

At times it may seem like smooth sailing for our loved ones and us. Some people experience many blessings in their personal and work lives. For years they can go forward with very few challenges. But suddenly they come face-to-face with the storms and struggles of life like an illness, loss of job, an addiction, or an abuse in the family. Jesus’ disciples struggled that night against the wind and the waves. They became frustrated and fearful. Without Jesus (their leader) by their side their faith became fragile.

We, too, can experience the winds of change and the waves of adversity. We may become frustrated and fearful. As the storms of life sweep over us, our faith may become fragile. We may be overwhelmed by a sea of doubt and despair as life throws monkey wrenches into our plans. What happens when our fragile faith falters and we begin to sink? Look at the disciple Peter’s experience. When Peter took his eyes off Jesus what happened? He began to sink. But when Peter fixed his gaze back on Jesus and cried out for help, Jesus responded, immediately reached out His hand and took hold of Peter.

At times our eyes and hearts are diverted or distracted from our leaders. We may be overwhelmed by the winds and waves, whatever they may be in our personal lives. At those times our faith can falter. We may be in danger of sinking into vice or shame or doubt or despair.

In those times we should fix our eyes and cry out to our leaders. They can often reach out to us and catch us before we sink and drown. They can lift us up out of the swirling sea of our own fears and restore us to faith and hope. They can rescue us from our doubt and despair.

Keep your eyes fixed on your leader.

There once was a man who was struggling to make the baseball team at school. Among other things, the man just could not hit a curve ball. The coach watched him struggle for a while and said, “Your problem is that you take your eye off the ball. You’re watching the pitcher and not the ball.”

Likewise, when we take our eyes off our leader in times of great stress, we can “strike out” in life. Our faith can falter and we can lose sight of our goal. But when we keep our eyes fixed on our leader, they can encourage us, strengthen our faith, free us from our doubts and despair, and lead us “to the other side”.