[Cover picture by Gordon Johnson, via Pixalbay]
Do you ever feel your whole being has been battered by heavy waves, knocked sideways, left punch-drunk and confused…
I can remember at least five times in my adult life when this was true. An earlier incident took place in 1988, when Jane and I looked into serving abroad with a missionary society that we’d long supported with great enthusiasm. They told us we weren’t suitable. The hammer blow in my case, came when they told me I had faults of which I was totally unaware.
The latest occasion was in 2021 after my mum went into a care home following the loss of her mobility. She and I had a close emotional connection. Along with my sister I watched helplessly despite trying every means possible to ease her agony of soul and to arrest her descent into despair. It was hard not to see her as an innocent victim of torture.
Suffering and turmoil are a part of life, although we all experience it to different degrees and in different forms. How, then, do we cope with it? In the words of an ancient hymn written in 1882 by American Priscilla Owens, “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?” Its chorus goes,
“We have an anchor that keeps the soul, Steadfast and sure while the billows roll, Fastened to the Rock which cannot move, Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.”
My observation is that people do come through their various trials. But whereas some emerge damaged and embittered, others grow as people through them. The Bible verse on which this hymn is based (Hebrews 6 vs 19) finishes,
“(we have a hope) which enters the Presence behind the veil…”
The inner sanctuary of the Jewish temple was guarded by a heavy, ornate veil along one side. Only the High Priest could go in there once a year. But when Jesus died on the Cross, the curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. He had made a way for men and women to come into God’s presence.
Whilst on earth, Jesus called God his father, and it was obvious to his disciples that this was an intimate, two way relationship. Now, this same access to God’s presence was open to all! But men and women have to do something. We have to enter. The writer of Hebrews urges his readers to “come on in, take advantage of everything that Jesus has done for you. Let him take away your guilt. Talk to him about your worries. Let him share your burdens. Enjoy his friendship…” Sadly, even we ‘Christian’ people can behave as if the veil’s a solid barrier. The result – imagine winning the lottery but never sending in your ticket?
What makes life truly worthwhile? For me, it’s knowing Jesus Christ personally. This is my conclusion after a lifetime of reflection, wrestling with my own thoughts and those of others, and seeking to live out what I believe. It’s true – God really does love us! And, as part of that, he has made a way for you and I to know him – to ‘enter behind the veil’.
The medics tell me I’m unlikely to peg out any time soon. I’m determined to live my remaining years to the best, but most likely the billows of Old Age will beckon me as they did my mum. The storms of Climate Change – all too literally I fear – will affect you as well as me. But I’m not dismayed. I shall remain anchored to ‘the rock’. Please come and join me there. You’ll find the security that all of us need.
3 thoughts on “An Anchor in the Storm”
We sang this song on Friday in the Prayer for Healing group so it’s a timely reminder. Thank you John.
Very true John. It’s all too easy to slide from that place and try to do it in you own strength
Powerful words John, thank you for your honesty. My present circumstance causes me to ask again, “How do people do life without Him?”