Look at Jesus, not the Waves
By Rick Warren
— December 18, 2010
... Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!" Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?" Matthew 14:29-31 (MSG)
This devotional is by Jon Walker, editor of the Daily Hope Devotionals and author of Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's 'The Cost of Discipleship.'
"Rather than obeying the commands of Jesus, we demand he tolerate our distractions and double-mindedness."
The call of discipleship is to follow after Jesus, even onto the water. In a sense, Jesus beckons, "Come closer to me. Be my disciple and learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I am the only way, so I require you to focus exclusively on me in your obedience."
Then, to underscore the need for this single-minded obedience, the Bible tells us that Peter became distracted. As he sees the wind whipping across the waves, Peter takes his focus off Jesus and he begins to sink into the water. His obedience is now double-minded - and he provides a profound object lesson in what happens when we try to serve two masters.
Here is the way of little faith: We want to walk on water; yet, we insist on being able to focus on whatever we want -- sometimes Jesus, sometimes the wind and waves; sometimes Jesus, sometimes our careers and casual pursuits; sometimes Jesus; sometimes "the sin that so easily entangles" (Hebrews 12:1 NIV).
When we choose to focus on our cares and worries, we elevate our anxieties to the same status as the promises of Jesus. But, which is more important, which should demand our greater attention - the ability of Jesus to care for us or the concerns we have about our circumstances?
And so, rather than obeying the commands of Jesus, we demand he tolerate our distractions and double-mindedness. We live within a mythology that says we can somehow follow after Jesus, yet pick and choose what commandments we will obey -- and when we'll obey.
But, if we want to walk on the water with Jesus, we must hear his directing us, 'Don't look at the waves; look at me.'