I have to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with water. I love the ocean but I get seasick when I try to do too much. Last summer, I spent seven days on a boat in Croatia, one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It was literally heaven on earth coasting along on the idyllic Adriatic Sea on a mini-yacht with new and old friends. Yet I woke up every morning on the high seas sick to my stomach as turbulent winds and currents threatened to capsize the tiny boat. I gripped the side of the bed in fear and cried out loud with the most Christ-like of intentions:
My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?
This wouldn’t be the first time that God allowed a boat to go down in the Adriatic Sea. If he did it before, he’ll do it again. He’s the same God!
Unfortunately for me, I was reminded during my Bible reading of Paul’s journey to Rome in Acts 27. In this chapter, Paul’s ship sails through a turbulent storm on the Adriatic Sea, his shipmates threaten to throw him overboard but God intervenes and the ship is wrecked before reaching land.
What had I gotten myself into?? This turbulence wasn’t in any of the pictures on the website.
The turbulence lasted for what seemed like an eternity and then I heard hurried footsteps above me scurrying to regain control of the ship. Finally, the skipper in his cheerful Argentinian accent would yell, “It’s good” as he directed one of our shipmates to drop the anchor. Then suddenly all was right with the world – the boat stopped swaying, the winds silenced their howls and the sun took control of the day.
This happened almost every single morning for SEVEN days! However, how the day started was vastly different from its grand finale. The seas remained calm throughout the day, creating the perfect backdrop for an Abercrombie and Fitch ad – bikini-clad co-eds swimming by sunlight and dancing by moonlight. The anchor made all the difference. Once the ship was anchored, the boat was safe on the seas and by the shore.
Anchors are rather silly when you think about it. They are these oddly-shaped hooks that keep big and little ships from drifting. Whose bright idea was it to use a little hook to keep a big ship from floating? Historians believe that the first anchors were rocks tied to the boat to keep it steady. In Christian tradition, anchors were the first symbols used to represent Christianity, not crosses, according to Stephen Gertz of Christianity Today.
Let’s not forget that the author of Hebrews compares the hope that we have in Jesus’s death and resurrection to an anchor – firm and secure.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19-20
This is what keeps the Christian from drifting – the firm and secure hope that God keeps his promises. If he could be trusted to keep the promise of allowing the brutal murder of his own son, what promise would he not keep for you and me?
Plus, in Matthew 14: 22- 32, our Bible BFF, Peter, and the rest of the disciples are on a boat in the midst of the storm when they see Jesus. Jesus tells them to take courage and not to be afraid but Peter isn’t so sure, he wants proof before he can trust Jesus. He says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus tells him, “Come,” and he does. Peter actually gets out of the boat and starts walking on water, but then the winds come, and he is afraid and begins to sink. He cries out, “Lord, save me.”
Immediately, Jesus reaches out and catches him saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Did you catch that? Jesus – his anchor – catches him and keeps him from drowning. This is the same guy whose name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to Peter or Cephas, meaning rock. This same guy who started out as a fisherman would go onto to boldly proclaim the gospel of Christ until he was martyred for his faith. He did what we all hope to do: go from shaky to unshakeable.
Yes, these are some of the heavy thoughts that flooded my mind while I was lying on the top bunk of my bed in the tiny cabin that I called my home on the Adriatic. By the end of my trip, I knew that I wanted my own “anchor” to take home. I found the tiny gold anchor in a little jewelry shop in Dubrovnik. As someone who has been prone to a turbulent mind for many years, I wanted this anchor to remind me of the calming assurance of faith found only in trusting that God always keeps his word.
I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Like me, maybe you’ve been in a season where you’ve felt forsaken by God. Perhaps, you’re in that season now and you feel wrecked by doubts and paralyzed by fears. In the Bible, in James 1:8, the doubter is called “double-minded and unstable.” In fact, James likens such a person to “a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (MSG)
Like, n-o-t-h-i-n-g, nada, you will not receive what you ask for when you doubt because it’s that destructive to your faith. In fact, the comparisons between doubt and water are numerous in the Bible and different versions use words like “uncontrollable” “unstable” “undisciplined” “destructive” to describe water in Genesis 49:4.
Let’s not be afraid of the future, of things not working out, of God not keeping his promises, instead, let us be:
Unshakeable: marked by firm determination or resolution; cannot be made weaker or destroyed
Unwavering: something (or someone) who will not waver (sway to and fro), wander, or go astray
Steadfast: firmly fixed.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58