Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor
The other day I heard the Christian humorist Ken Davis share a truly funny story. It had to do with hunting so he had me from the start. He began his story by explaining that he had spent a great deal of time and energy becoming extremely proficient at archery. His practice had given him a high degree of confidence. His past successes at hunting only intensified his confidence. He was ready for whatever would come his way, or so he thought.
On one particular hunt, he crested a mountain ridge, and there before and below him, unaware, was a gorgeous whitetail buck. He couldn’t believe the size of this buck and the antlers on its head. And this is where the story began to get funny. He couldn’t take his eyes off the antlers. He began to picture in his mind’s eye exactly how nice they would look on the wall in his family room. He thought about the story he would tell. This was the biggest buck he ever seen, much less ever had a shot at.
A lifetime of training had prepared him for this moment. He carefully and skillfully took aim. He released his arrow with great precision. He then told us he couldn’t believe what happened next. No, he didn’t miss the buck, but what he hit thoroughly shocked him. He hit just what he was aiming at…which was just what he was looking at, and what he was thinking about. Yep, he hit the buck—right in the antlers.
I don’t know if you know this, but this won’t take down a buck. Stunned, the buck quickly bolted and made his escape. Ken stood there dazed. Only then did it dawn on him what happened. He never took his eyes of the buck’s antlers.
We tend to see what we’re looking at. We see it, even if we don’t realize we’re looking at it. What you focus on, you see.
This truth has huge spiritual implications.
Which brings to mind Peter.
At the end of the Gospel of John, Jesus is telling Peter what his future holds. Not what Jesus’ future holds, but what Peter’s future holds. Jesus wants Peter to see something. But rather than listen, Peter changes the subject. He wants to talk about John. What about him? What’s his future?
To this, Jesus said something that was both abrupt and intriguing.
“Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’ Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’” John 21:22-23
You can obviously pick up from this that a rumor began circulating regarding the fate of John (who did in fact die, albeit as an old man). But John is not the subject, Peter is. Jesus tells Peter that he is to follow him. In other words, “Peter, keep your eyes on me. Concern yourself with yourself and your future with me, not someone else’s.”
This is far from the first time Peter let distractions get the best of him.
One of the most famous stories of Peter involved seeing Jesus walking on the water. Peter couldn’t believe Jesus was doing this and he wanted to have a cut of this action. He asked Jesus if he could join him and Jesus responded affirmatively. Peter jumped out of the boat and he WALKED ON WATER!!! That is until he didn’t. He did until he sank. What went wrong? Jesus explained it in no uncertain terms:
“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” Matthew 14:29-31
Let me paraphrase Jesus’ response: “Why did you take your eyes off of me?” The minute Peter began to look at the wind and the waves, he saw nothing but the wind and the waves. He no longer saw Jesus. He became distracted and he lost his focus. It was all downhill from there.
Why does this matter? Right now, for all of us who believe in Christ, these are incredibly distracting times. If you read or listen closely, you can’t fail to see Christians who are panicking. What does this all mean? What about the Supreme Court decision? What about ISIS? What about racism? What about the economy? What about the future? What’s going to happen to the church?
While I certainly don’t claim to know the future, I do claim to know One who does. Here is what I’ve concluded: He’s got this one. God wasn’t surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision. He saw it coming. He’s seen it all coming. Nothing in the news is news to God.
While it is extremely tempting to pontificate and to prognosticate as to what all these developments mean, I want to encourage you instead to keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your focus. Keep looking at him. Follow him.
These are uncertain times. These are times of great winds and great waves. Don’t fixate on them. Keep your eyes locked on Jesus. He’s got this. Follow him.
Whatcha’ looking at?