Jul 15, 2018 06:51AM
● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
Picture Fourth of July week at the Lake of the Ozarks (Missouri, for any of you who are never-have-left-New-England folks). Two brothers-in-law, two sisters-in-law, three nieces, two nephews, two parents-in-law, three kids, one husband, one boat, one huge lake, 95-degree heat.
Does that help paint a picture?
So, my brother-in-law recently purchased a 16-seater yacht, and he was eager to take as many of us out on the lake as he could. Most of them are Midwesterners, but my family had just travelled three long days with our trailer from Boston to Missouri. Yeah, many memories and soul-deep conversations in that truck ride (yes, five people and two Shih Tzus in a Ford F-150). Fun, fun, fun.
So we headed out in the boat for a 25-minute ride across the manmade lake to find a good spot to put out the float and swim. Sounded good to me! I’m not really a water person, but in 95-degree weather, I’ll jump into just about whatever water source you want me to in order to cool down. The water was marvelous.
But then there was that interesting comment from several different family members:
“Um, we are drifting. We are going to hit that other boat.”
Sure enough, the very nice (thank you, God!) people in the boat now way too close to us were helping us not bump their boat. Did I mention they were very nice?
In the meantime, the only two people capable of maneuvering the boat had jumped ship 5 minutes before that to return a broken jet ski to the dock. That was after making sure the anchor really was secure.
But the thing was:
It was, and then suddenly,
And the boat operators trained to fully rectify the situation were off on a water errand (yeah, now we know that isn’t such a good idea). Floats and people came out of the water, and a different brother-in-law temporarily stabilized the boat.
So let me ask you, then:
How is your anchor? Is it fully secure? Does it grip fully? Or do you feel it slipping?
I’ll let you know a little secret: Mine sometimes slips a bit. The anchor called “Me,” that is. Whenever I think I’ve stabilized my personal ship, the storm comes along to taunt me.
Something similar happened to the Apostle Paul when he was taken as prisoner and marooned on an island (Malta) for a while.
Take note of this shipwreck scenario:
Acts 27:13-26, ESV
Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship's boat. After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. And on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.' So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island" [emphases mine].
On their own, securing the ship proved challenging for Paul and fellow travelers.
Know the feeling?
And violent storms forced them to make decisions about cargo that could have had a lasting impact. The decisions were game-changers.
Hungry and facing the loss of the ship, Paul points out there are consequences (they will run aground), but because of God, there would be no loss of life.
See, on the largest of all scales, it’s the same with sin we commit in the process of navigating our pride and steering our own ship without consulting God. We have to face consequences—but because of Christ our Savior, we do not incur loss of life. We instead inherit eternal life with Him upon believing in and professing the name of Jesus.
Do you know this Anchor who holds fast, never causing me (or you) to drift? Firmly I sit in His beautiful grasp. Even when I jump off His boat for a while to try to navigate my own way, whenever I call out to Him, He brings me safely to shore again.
Hebrews 6:17-20, ESV
So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek [emphasis mine].
He anchors my soul. He helps me hold fast.
In Christ, there is no slippage. We may drift of our own accord, but when we sink our trust into the hope of His anchor, we need not fear. Our souls are secure.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.