“Find a spot and focus on it.” If you’ve ever taken a ballet class or a Pilates or yoga class, and you were attempting to balance on one foot, you’ve likely heard an instructor say this. We know that staring at a specific spot on the wall or on the floor in front of us does something to our mind and our body that keeps us from falling over. I’m sure science can explain it. And we know it to be true in practice.
I heard my Pilates instructor say it the other day, and it confirmed what I know to be true, both about balancing on one leg, and about maintaining peace in my own life.
Our gaze affects our equilibrium.
What we are focused on significantly affects the way we live. It affects our thinking, our actions, our personality, our health and our well being.
So what are you staring at today? What are you focusing on? Where is your gaze?
There is a story in the Bible that holds a special place in my heart. It’s about this subject, actually. I was enduring a very turbulent season of life and this very story showed up three times in what I was reading and listening to over the course of two days. I don’t know about you, but if something keeps showing up in front of me, I give it attention.
The story can be found in Matthew 14.
Stop me if you’ve heard this story…
Jesus’ friends are out on a fishing boat in the middle of the night and a huge storm blows in, causing the boat to be tossed among the waves. Jesus appears out of nowhere, walking on the water toward the boat. Peter, one of his friends, asks Jesus if he too can come out to meet him. I mean, wow. That’s courageous. Can I come walk on the sea with you, Jesus? Jesus says, “Come.” And Peter does!
Peter sees the wind and the waves and looks away from Jesus and he’s overcome with fear. He starts to sink. He cries out, “Lord, save me.” And Jesus reaches out his hand to take hold of him, and returns him to the boat. And then Jesus tells the storm to stop.
There is a lot going on in this story that is important. Walking on water, Peter’s courage, the waves listening to Jesus, etc. But the thing that really stood out to me in my particular season of being tossed among the waves was this…
Jesus said come, Peter. And as long as Peter had his eyes on his friend, the one he trusted, the one who was already walking on water, the one who is actually God in the flesh, he remained above the waves. It was when he looked at the storm that he was fearful. It was when he gazed at the big, threatening problem that he sank. His gaze affected his equilibrium.
When I read this story again, after hearing it for the third time, I felt like God was saying to me, stop looking at the problem. Look at me and you will be OK. Keep looking at me even when the waves seem to threaten you. Keep your gaze upon me.
The truth of the matter is,
You get to choose what you are looking at. You get to determine your gaze. Moment by moment.
Maybe you’ve heard these sayings…what you think about you bring about. As a man thinks so he is. What you magnify gets bigger. I believe all of these sayings to be true.
His last words
Jesus’ very last words on earth can be found in Matthew 28:20. Would you agree that a person’s last words are significant? I would imagine that Jesus really wanted us to remember this very important thing. He said this: “I will be WITH YOU always, to the end of the age.”
He knew we would struggle with fear. He knew that we would gaze at the wrong things. He reminded us that he would be with us. Always. He knows that our gaze affects our equilibrium.
He is with you now. Shift your gaze. Look at him and see if it affects your peace.
You were never meant to figure out life alone. He is with you. You can ignore him or your can look at him. Moment by moment. Turn your gaze and be with him. When you start to wobble, receive that as your reminder. Your gaze is the key to your equilibrium.
(You can get in touch with the author at firstname.lastname@example.org)