The terrible storm sent most of the passengers to their staterooms. Some of the less fearful gathered in small groups along the deck to watch what was going on. As one of the officers of the ship passed by, a passenger asked him, “Do you think we are going to have a bad night?” “Yes, I think it will be quite stormy’ he replied.
Then he added reassuringly, “But there is nothing to worry about. We have a fine ship and plenty of sea room.” Just then a vivid flash lightened the sky.
The same nervous passenger exclaimed, “Look at the storm!” “No,” the officer countered, “Don’t look at the storm, look at the ship!” Then very calmly he proceeded to tell about the construction of the boat and how it would be able to ride out any storm. Though he didn’t minimize the difficulty at hand, he had firm faith in his vessel.
He was confident that it was sufficient to withstand any storm.
We, too, must face storms of life. God never promised if we would follow Him, we would escape the storms of life. He did not exempt even His own Son from the cross.
What God does promise us, however, is strength to face adversity. No matter how heavy our cross, His grace will always be adequate. The secret of weathering the storms of life successfully is to look at the ship instead of the storm. Instead of looking at our troubles and being overcome by fear, we choose to look to Jesus and place our faith in Him who can calm even the stormiest sea.
We find an excellent example of this truth in today’s Gospel lesson. When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, he said, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” Jesus asked him to come. “So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me’
Peter’s difficulty was that he took his eyes off Christ. He looked at the waves, the water, the wind; he looked at this own fearful heart instead of keeping his eyes fastened on Christ who was beckoning to him.
He became so preoccupied with the problem (the wind) that he forgot the solution (Christ). It has been said that man has three eyes — the eye of sense, the eye of reason and the eye of faith.
The eye of sense he has in common with all the animals; the eye of reason in common with all men; the eye of faith in common with all of those who commit their life to God. Each eye is higher than the other. By the eye of faith we “see” God and life comes into true focus.
It is important that we look at the right things in life. Whether we look at the storm or at the ship; whether we look at the waves or at Christ has much to do with our survival.
One day a person riding a bicycle saw a stone lying on the road. He wanted to avoid hitting it so he kept his eye fastened on it. The result was that he went right over it. The jolt nearly knocked him off the bike. He realized later that he had kept his eye on the wrong place.
He should have kept it on the path where he wanted to go; not on the rock where he did not want to go. For we are drawn to that on which we fix our gaze.
When the author of Hebrews urges us to look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) he uses the Greek word “aforontes” which means to fix one’s gaze upon Christ by turning one’s eyes away from everything else.
The best way to overcome sin is to remove our eyes from that which tempts us and fasten them on Christ through prayer. “Looking to Jesus” (Heb. 12:2). We try not concentrate our attention on the obstacles we meet in life. The more we look at the obstacles, the more they confuse and overwhelm us. It was when Peter turned and looked at the wind and waves that he began to sink. As long as he kept his eyes fastened on Christ he walked on the waters as on a rock.
The more difficult our task, the more terrifying our temptation, the more essential it is that we look to Jesus.
Fr A Coniaris