Yesterday I was privileged to worship with and preach for the Palm Springs Dr. Church in Altamonte Springs. When I spoke at the communion service I shared this story and some accompanying thoughts from the book 6 Hours One Friday.
The author, Max Lucado, writes about a Labor day weekend when Hurricane David was devastating the Caribbean and headed toward South Florida. He writes that he and some other guys were trying to figure out how to protect a houseboat they lived on. Desperately they tried to tie it down tight to the dock, trees, moorings, anything they could.
A weather-wise veteran of the sea witnessed their frantic efforts and felt sorry for them. He advised, “Tie her to the land and you’ll regret it. Those trees are gonna get eaten by the ‘cane. Your only hope is to anchor deep in four different locations, leave the rope slack, and pray for the best.”
Anchor deep. That’s good advice not just when a hurricane threatens but in the storms of life.
The anchor was a symbol of hope in the ancient world. Warren Wiersbe claims that more than 66 pictures of anchors have been discovered in the catacombs. We actually saw one etched in the walls when we toured the Roman catacombs two years ago.
The Greek philosopher Pythagoras wrote: “Wealth is a weak anchor; fame is still weaker. What then are the anchors which are strong? Wisdom, great-heartedness, courage—these are the anchors which no storm can shake.”
The Hebrew writer, however, offers a better anchor yet. He says, “we have an anchor of the soul” and affirms “it is sure and steadfast.” The anchor? It is none other than Jesus Christ Himself. He is our hope. He provides safety. Security. And stability. He’s the mooring to which we can hold on when the storms of life assail our souls.
Our anchor is steadfast because it’s rooted in the cross. The cross of Christ became the anchor of the apostles preaching. Paul said, “We preach Christ crucified.” In fact, he said that he gloried in the cross. He admitted, that ”the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,” but affirmed, “to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
It’s ironic that the cross became such a symbol of hope because at that moment it seemed like Christ’s crucifixion signaled the end of His ministry. The disciples were scared and scattered. They ran like scalded dogs when Jesus was arrested. It felt like their 3 ½ years with Jesus was now ending in futility, emptiness, and discouragement. Then Jesus uttered those words, “It is finished…Father into your hands I commit my spirit.”
Jesus died. Death had won. The devil was smiling. And it was all over. Or so it seemed on the surface.
Ah, but Sunday came. Early in the morning, the Son arose. Triumphant over death, devil, and the grave. You see, the cross and the empty tomb are inseparably linked. Together than provide a powerful anchor when we encounter the storms of life.
We all face times when life seems futile. When our best efforts appear fruitless. When we feel insufficient, unproductive, and insignificant. And when we think we’re on a never-ending treadmill to nowhere.
Don’t we all have periods in our lives when we’ve failed? Failed to live up to the expectations of others? Failed to meet our own goals? Failed to achieve our dreams? And worse yet failed God?
Then as we stare at the specter of death, say “goodbye” to our loved ones, and ponder our own mortality, it seems like the “bully on the block” has the upper hand. He’s won again. Our homes are empty and our hearts are hurting.
It’s then we must rely on our anchor to steady our nerves. Calm our fears. Soothe our souls. And sustain us through the storm.
“Anchor deep” in the Lord, is what we must do. And when we read the Scriptures and ponder the message of the cross, we hear Jesus offering help, and hope as He assures us…
“Your life is not futile.”
“Your failures are not fatal.”
“Your death is not final.”
“And your future destination is secured.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman