BY AMY WALTON |
There once was a fisherman who left everything to follow Jesus. He ate with Him, traveled with Him, worked with Him, and witnessed His powerful teaching and the miracles He performed. He saw the Lord transfigured as He stood on the mountain with Elijah and Moses. He is the “rock” on which the church was built.
He’s also the same guy who denied knowing Jesus, not once, but three times, and of whom Jesus referred to as a “stumbling block.” He’s the man who, along with his fellow disciples, fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane after the Lord asked them to pray.
And he’s the one who took his eyes off Jesus and started sinking in the lake.
How often are we like Peter, being close and intimate with Jesus some days then taking our eyes off him on others?
I think we do both most days. We dig into scripture. We pray. We praise. We serve. We have our eyes on Jesus.
Then we focus our sights on others and other things: Worrying about our finances and jobs. Thinking how we need a larger house or a newer car, even when the ones we have served us just fine. Getting so wrapped up in our work that we make no time for others. Spinning ourselves into frenzies and forgetting to turn our anxieties over to God.
And making time for God? How does one fit that into his already packed schedule?
Most of us have been in situations where our finances were shaky or we were afraid of losing our jobs. We buy into, often literally, the media advertisements that scream at us to go bigger and better. And we overschedule and overwork for a number of reasons: More money to support our families, more people to serve through our churches…more, more, more.
We panic. We get stressed out. And we sink, because we take our eyes off Jesus, forgetting to turn to Him for guidance.
In the past few years, I have devoted more time to the Lord each day through prayer, stillness, meditation on His Word, and serving in my church and community. I awaken each morning, thanking God for the day He has made and asking Him to help me be Him to everyone I encounter, whether in person or online. I ask His blessings on my family, my work, my home…everything.
And then I sink.
Yep, I take my eyes off Jesus every day.
I sink when I fail to see others from a place of love and compassion, when I try to take matters into my own hands, and when I desire more of this world and not His will.
As a very young girl, I was given a little card by someone at church which had an image of Jesus on it. I carried that card with me from early childhood to young adulthood, transferring it to nearly every purse and bag I owned. When it became really worn and fragile, I placed it in a special box where I keep other important items from my childhood.
But being a card-carrying Jesus lover didn’t always translate into keeping my eyes on Him and doing His will. Far from it on countless times.
I frequently reflect on the lives of those who clearly kept their eyes on the Lord, especially in trying times, and the transformations and miracles that resulted from their focused devotion. A dear friend spent months by her husband’s hospital bed, praying, as she let friends communicate with his medical team. Wanting to stay focused on the Lord and not be deterred by bad or uncertain prognoses, she allowed others to take charge of those discussions. She had her eyes on Jesus and let her community support her. Her husband survived his medical ordeal and is thriving today in his ministry.
Yes, she kept her eyes on the Savior.
Isn’t that what each of us should do? Isn’t it what we as a church should do?
Saul of Tarsus definitely didn’t have his eyes on Jesus except through the lens of persecuting those who believed in Him. He re-focused, though, after being blinded by the light on the road to Damascus. Upon regaining his sight, he was laser focused as he spread the good news throughout the region and became one of the most prolific writers of the New Testament.
And what did he write to the church at Philippi as he awaited his verdict in Rome?
For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
Paul’s earthly life was devoted to the one to whom he was previously opposed, but he also looked forward to being in eternity with Him.
Paul had his eyes on Jesus.
In the Book of Acts, we read about the early church’s devotion to prayer and the Word (Acts 2:42). Starting with that small group, the Gospel is now preached all over the world. They had their eyes on Jesus.
During this time of a continuing pandemic and global crises, we need more than ever to keep our gaze on Christ.
I was recently meditating on the lyrics of one of my favorite hymns, “Jesus Still Lead On,” written by Count Nicholas Von Zinzendorf. Its first verse, familiar to us Moravians, is the following:
Jesus, still lead on,
Till our rest be won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow calm and fearless;
Guide us by your hand
To our Father’s land.
Count Zinzendorf and the Brethren kept their eyes on Jesus.
Yes, our paths may be cheerless at times, but if we look to Him, take His hand, and follow calm and fearless, we won’t sink.
Stay focused. Hold that gaze. Reach for the Master’s hand.
Keep your eyes on Jesus.
About the author
Amy Walton is a certified life coach, certified Christian life coach, speaker, and writer who has lived in coastal Virginia for nearly 30 years. A native of Mayodan, North Carolina, she was baptized, confirmed, and raised in Mayodan Moravian Church, where she remains an Associate Member. Connect with her at www.HolyGrounding.com or [email protected].