Firmly Anchored in the Storm
Imagine for a moment that you’re on a boat, alone. It’s not a cross-channel ferry or cruise liner, but neither is it a dinghy or small fishing boat. It’s a pretty sturdy vessel of a good size – strong & stable. Looking to one side of the boat you see a storm approaching. Unmistakably the wind is starting to blow and you can feel the effect of the ever larger waves. The boat is being tossed around, and the storm hasn’t even arrived yet.
You don’t stand a chance of single-handedly manoeuvring the boat out of the way of the storm – it’s approaching too quickly. As the rain starts to lash down, the wind gets stronger and the waves get higher, the only thing that you can do is let down the anchor, head inside the small cabin, hang on, wait for the storm to pass and hope for the best. In the eye of the storm the boat gets thrown all over the place, and so do you, but you manage to stay inside the cabin at least. When the storm has passed and a somehow deafening peace descends, you sit relieved for a moment. The boat has been battered but has thankfully remained in tact – and you’ve survived. More importantly, the anchor held firm. So even though you’re exhausted, and even though the boat has been tossed around and is facing in a different direction that you were originally travelling, you can be confident of one thing at least: that you know where you are. All because of that anchor.
Wherever you are on your faith journey, you can be sure that at some point life is going to get stormy. When the Apostle Paul wrote to James he starts his letter with the phrase ‘when trouble comes’. He was under no illusion that life was going to be easy for James – he knew from personal experience that even the most faithful Christians face difficult times. So what can you do now to ensure that those difficult or stormy times in life won’t overcome you or knock you completely off course? You need an anchor…
When the Bible mentions an anchor, it always refers to an actual, physical anchor – with one exception. In the book of Hebrews it uses the picture of an anchor symbolically. Chapter 6 talks about leaving behind the basic teachings about Jesus, and instead ‘going on to maturity’ – sticking to what you know and hanging on to God’s promises. It explains that God can be trusted as He is faithful to His word, but just to make absolutely sure we believe Him, He swears an oath on His promises too. The very clear message is that God’s promises will be fulfilled. But what about the anchor?
‘God cannot tell lies! And so his promises and vows are two things that can never be changed. We have run to God for safety. Now his promises should greatly encourage us to take hold of the hope that is right in front of us. This hope is like a firm and steady anchor for our souls.’ – Hebrews 6:18:19a NLT
The only hope we have is Jesus – He is described as the ‘hope of the world’ (Matthew 12:21). He is the one who was promised by God long before He was born (and that promise was fulfilled). Jesus is the only way our relationship with God could be restored – He is the only way to eternal life in heaven, but more, Jesus said He had come in order that we’d experience life to the full here on earth first (John 10:10).
Hebrews 6 encourages us to hold tight to the hope we have – our hope in Jesus and all that’s He’s done will be our anchor when life gets tough. During the storm we’ll be tossed around and knocked about. When the storm passes we’ll be totally exhausted & in need of rest and restoration. But even having been blown in all directions by the storm, we won’t be lost. Because the anchor will have done it’s job; we’ll be disoriented and facing in a different direction than we were originally travelling, but we’ll know exactly where we are.
– how will my hope & trust in Jesus help me ‘when trouble comes’?
– what do I need to do now to make sure I’m holding tightly to that hope?
– am I confident that my anchor (my hope in Jesus) is big enough to hold in the toughest storm?
– if not, what do I need to do to strengthen that hope?