“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”
I thought of Peter as I studied these three verses the other day. When Peter saw Jesus walking on water, he asked a bold question:
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
Peter, knowing Jesus’s power, asked to join Jesus on the sea. Jesus then called, and Peter followed, walking on the waves to his Lord. I imagine Peter fixed his gaze upon Jesus as he found his footing, getting used to the choppy water beneath his feet. As he began to move, however, he shifted his attention away from Jesus to the weather around him. Matthew’s account records what followed:
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
While Peter’s eyes looked directly forward to his Lord, he walked on water, experiencing firsthand the awesome power of God. When he turned his eyes away from Jesus and noticed the wind, he felt fear. He knew his limits, and he knew he couldn’t sustain himself in his present location. And so he began to sink as he gave in to his doubts.
How often do we find ourselves in similar settings? We hear the call of God and step out boldly, excited at the opportunity to join him in his work. We experience his power in and through us to further his kingdom in this world, and we rejoice. Then we stop to observe our surroundings, and we notice some troubling things. We see the danger around us, whether from enemies or from environments, and we realize that we cannot defend ourselves against attack. We see the seemingly insurmountable obstacles before us, and we realize we do not have the strength to accomplish our goals. As we look around us, we see and feel our weakness and inability; we feel paralyzed.
When the writer of Proverbs reminds us to keep our eyes ahead, I think he means for us to fix our eyes upon the Lord. “We walk by faith, not by sight,” as Paul wrote (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are a people prone to distraction, and, in the pursuit of God, distraction can be devastating. So we are called to focus not upon our circumstances but upon our Lord, who transcends all circumstances we face. We are called to trust not in our own strength, but in the strength he provides (2 Corinthians 4:7-12). We are called to trust that God will provide all we need as we seek first his kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
Today, let us refocus our eyes upon the Lord in faith that he knows what he’s doing. Trust that “[his] grace is sufficient for you, for [his] power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). And follow him, remembering that he has overcome this world (John 16:33).