Will Your Anchor Hold?
The Murphy family managed to get away to Dornoch over the September weekend. The beach was a particular highlight, one half is beautiful smooth sand, and the other rocky and filled with sea-beasties for the girls to find (and photograph)! The highlight for me though was a half-submerged anchor. The ornate design, barnacles and rust suggested that it had been there for a long time, but it was the size that really captured my imagination. The whole anchor must weigh a huge amount, yet the sea’s power managed to wash it ashore.
I was reminded of the old hymn:
‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?’
The raw power of the sea is a recurring theme in Scripture. Who can still the sea but He who created it?
And indeed it is when Jesus stills the sea and calms the storm, that the disciples really begin to question who he is.
‘What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’Mark 4:35-40
Even although Paul wasn’t on the boat when Christ stilled the storm, he did experience a miracle in the midst of a stormy sea.
Paul had long wanted to get to Rome for the cause of Christ, now he was on his way. He had been arrested, bullied, beaten and put on a prison boat, but he was en route to Rome.
A storm arises.
The ship takes in Luke’s words (Acts 27:18) – ‘a violent battering.’
Those on board throw cargo overboard to lighten the load.
Day after day passes, and the storm just keeps raging.
By verse 20 Luke says ‘we finally gave up all hope of being saved.’
Utter hopelessness, relentless battering, certain death.
Then Paul speaks: (v21f)
‘I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.’
A word of hope.
The sailors think they know better though, after fourteen days of this storm, they sensed they were approaching land. Obviously they were experienced sailors so they formed a plan and put down four anchors to hold the boat whilst they lowered the lifeboat in a bid to escape.
Down go the anchors.
Down goes the lifeboat.
And then Paul speaks again. He tells the Roman guards what the sailors are doing. He tells them that unless these sailors stay with the ship, they will all die.
And the Roman guards cut the cord to let the lifeboat drift away.
Four anchors that the men dropped may have held the boat for a while, but they were powerless to offer any real peace in the storm.
So the question is – what anchored Paul?
He’s the only one not caught up in the chaos of this scene.
It took four anchors to hold the boat and even then they were far from safe. They were far from at peace.
The only man that seemed calm and confident was Paul.
He was anchored to something so strong, he was utterly secure in the storm.
1-GOD’S PRESENCE (v23)
23 ‘Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me’
We may not have many angelic encounters in our Christian lives- but if we know the presence of God, we will know the peace of God. Our God has promised that he will never leave us nor forsake us, and actually it is often in the midst of the storms of life that he gives us a special sense of his nearness.
2- GOD’S PROMISE (v24)
24 `Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’
You must stand trial before Caesar. It doesn’t sound like a great promise to be honest!
‘Cheer up Paul, you must go to court. And you won’t die before you do!’’
But given Paul’s circumstances, that was a good promise.
‘He will protect you until your work for Him is done.’
Even when everything seems against you.
If God has promised something, it will come to pass.
Are you a Christian? Then the promises of God are yours in Christ Jesus:
• He’ll never leave you nor forsake you
• He’ll never count your sins against you
• He’s working for your good in all things
• Nothing will separate you from his love- even death itself
The promises of God can anchor us in the storms of life.
3- GOD’S POWER
What would his presence and his promise have meant if Paul had doubted his power?
Not much. But Paul is so confident of the power of his God, that he assures the men that not one of them will lose a single hair from his head (verse 33).
Paul was anchored by his God’s presence and promise and power. And he was right to be. Even when the boat ran aground and the men were plunged into the stormy sea looking for broken bits of boat to cling onto, God was working. He was working to fulfil the promise he had made.
He was in control of every bobbing bit of wood
and every muscle that clung on
and every rise and fall of the water…
And sure enough, everyone arrived safely without so much as losing a hair on his head.
May we, like Paul, be anchored in the storms by the Lord’s presence, by His promises, and by His power.